GEI Administration Control Panel



August 2013

Download the article here

 

The Daily Courier, Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fuel cells the energy source of the future

Kelowna could become the centre of a revolution in power generation if local company can capitalize on new technology

By STEVE MacNAULL
The Daily Courier

Kelowna is poised to be the fuel cell capital of Canada. "When people ask: 'Why Kelowna?' I tell them: Why not Kelowna," said Stuart Gray, vice-president of Global Energy Innovations, the company commercializing the latest in fuel cell technology units.

"We can have a fuel cell assembly plant in the Kelowna area that could become the size Western Star was."

Western Star was the truck manufacturer on Enterprise Way that used to be the city's biggest employer, with over
1,000 workers, before parent company Freightliner moved everything to Portland, Ore.

This story starts in Flint, Mich., where the head of the mechanical engineering department at Kettering University — Joel Berry — developed a new type of fuel cell that utilizes readily-available natural gas, propane or biofuel to create clean and efficient electric power.

In past, fuel cells used hydrogen and oxygen to generate energy.

However, because hydrogen isn't easily accessible, previous fuel cell technology was limited. "My goal was to create a robust technology that can be commercialized for widespread global use," Berry said on a recent visit to the Global Energy Innovations office in Kelowna.dr berry-stuart gray-dallas morin

Berry's fuel cells have been featured in stories on NBC-TV and The Wall Street Journal.

He set up Global Energy Innovations in Flint as a company separate from the university to start that
commercialization.

His invention has been tested over the last few years and is now ramping up to go into production.

The first factory will be in Flint, but with the Global Energy Innvovations office being set up in Kelowna, Gray wants to see manufacturing locally as well.

"We see the fuel cells being 70-per-cent completed in Flint and then sent up here for final assembly for Canadian distribution and sale to customers around the world," he said.

"We'll need a 30,000-square-foot factory and start with about 100 employees and build from there."

Gray is now looking for that factory location and has been in discussions with both Westbank First Nation and natural gas and electric utility FortisBC for possible partnerships.

A fuel cell is basically a black metal box with electronic circuitry inside that uses the chosen fuel (natural gas, methane propane or biofuel) to start a chemical reaction that converts the fuel to electrial power.

There are no moving parts and no combustion of fuel as there is in a furnace, generator or power plant.

A fuel cell or cells can be hooked up to a natural gas line or any other fuel supply and placed anywhere to power anything from a single family home to a whole community.

Fuel cells come in different sizes.

The two-kilowatt unit measuring four feet by four feet by three feet can be used as back-up or primary power for a single-family home.

The 100-kilowatt unit isn't that much bigger at six feet by six feet by eight feet, but packs a lot more punch and can power 10,000 to 15,000 homes, an entire apartment or office highrise, shopping centre, hospital or factory.

The 100-kilowatt units can also be stacked together to provide even more electricity for more users.gei fuel cell image

"In Canada, the market for fuel cells is companies that have drilling rigs that are currently using dirty and expensive diesel generators," said Global's Kelowna-based business development director Dallas Morin.

"They could also be used in oil and gas operations up north or in remote or Native communities that don't have cheap and reliable electricity. Internationally, the market is huge because reliable electricity is needed for everything from single-family homes to entire communities in developing parts of China, India and Africa."

Gray, the son of Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray, was most recently an alternative energy consultant and Morin has a
background in real estate investing in the U.S.

To finance Global's fuel cell commercialization, Gray has arranged for publicly traded company Suja Minerals (SJML on the over-the-counter NASDAQ bulletin board) to acquire Global Energy Innovations.

Shortly, the name of the publicly-traded company will become Global Energy Innovations (symbol: GEI).

So far, $800,000 has been raised and the goal is $15 million over the next year.

Stock is currently changing hands in the 50 to 60 cent range, but is expected to increase as the fuel cell commercialization amps up.

Check out GEIGlobal.com.

You are here: Home News & Events Three startups win more than $500,000 seed money
  • Decrease font size
  • Default font size
  • Increase font size
  • default color
  • green color
  • blue color
Three startups win more than $500,000 seed money Print E-mail
by Gary Gosselin | Oakland Business Review
Monday July 07, 2008, 11:56 AM

Startup companies in Flint, Midland and Novi have landed more than $500,000 in pre-seed money to give their efforts a boost.

Flint's Global Energy Innovations, Inc. received $250,000; Novi's 3IS got $92,499 and Fulcrum Composites in Midland received $200,000.

"Support across the state for emerging businesses signals a collective commitment for creating new economy companies and jobs in Michigan," Skip Simms, Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund manager said in a statement. "The Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund is a resource that helps companies at a critical stage of formation and development work towards bringing products to market."
The three join 22 others that have received $5.4 million as part of a program that targets start-ups in one of the state's identified competitive edge technology and have the sponsorship of its local SmartZone. In addition, companies must have received grant, angel or venture capital funding greater or equal to funding requested of the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund.

Global Energy, sponsored by the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti SmartZone, provides advanced auxiliary high temperature PEM fuel cell power systems capable of reforming various fuel sources to provide multiple, reconfigurable power output channels.

3IS, sponsored by Automation Alley, received $92,499. 3IS is a business information aggregator that provides Web-based data portals for the global electronics industry.
Fulcrum Composites works with advanced materials and designs to develop structural components for the trailer and energy industries and was sponsored by the Mt. Pleasant/ Midland SmartZone.
The Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund is an equity fund that invests in technology-based companies to support business formation and acceleration. The fund will receive the same returns as the third party investor. The returns that the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund receives from its investments will serve as seed money for the Fund's continuation.

Each SmartZone is responsible for recommending an investor to the review board. Ann Arbor SPARK serves as the Fund's administrator. The fund just received its first loan payback - with interest -- in May from an investment in a wind turbine startup company, Simms said.
But, he said, the organization only has funds for about five more investments with the original $8 million it was awarded in 2006 from the Michigan 21st Century Jobs Fund to operate the program.
Simms said he's talking to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to obtain more funds and was confident the organization can be self-sustaining in just a few years.
"Those contacts have been made but its not a done deal yet," Simms said. "It's a high priority were told by MEDC and we're hoping to get funded fairly soon."
Over the 17-month life of the program so far, 70 companies have expressed interest and 31 have gone through the entire process.