A new fuel cell player in town

Remember the rumor last year about BASF’s big fuel cell investment here in the US?

Well, BASF says itis gearing up for the inauguration of its new fuel cell manufacturingplant in Somerset, New Jersey – said to be the world’s only facilitythat can fabricate complete Membrane Electrode Assemblies (MEAs) whichis the heart of the fuel cell.

The company says the facility will provide critical components to therenewable energy market under the BASF’s Celtec brand. Celtec MEAsrecently powered the flight of Antares DLR-H2 said to be the first manned aircraft to be powered exclusively with hydrogen.

“Following test flights of the Antares, fuel cells will be installed in their Airbus A320 where they will be optimized for use in wide-bodied aircraft to make on-board electricity supply more efficient in the future,” says BASF.

The company said the novel membrane behind Celtec MEA can operate at over 320 deg F without any water which gives it a considerable advantage over current competition. Celtec MEAs are used in product applications ranging from home appliances to small refuelable battery chargers used by today’s soldiers, and someday…the cars that we drive.

Since real cars operated by fuel cell is not yet manufactured, me and my ICIS Chemical Business editor-in-chief Joe Chang are content to examine how Celtec MEA-based fuel cells work in a toy car – complimentary of BASF.

Watch out for my colleague Feliza Mirasol’s report about BASF’s fuel cell plant opening on May 6 (as I will be attending the American Oil Chemists Society’s 100th annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, that day).

[Photo of membranes for MEA by BASF]

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