CORDIS - EU research results

Emission free and novel fuel cell-based electrical generator UP400

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - UpGen (Emission free and novel fuel cell-based electrical generator UP400)

Reporting period: 2019-08-01 to 2020-01-31

Most back-up power sources today are reliant on diesel generators – a technology that is decades old. Virtually every market segment that requires back-up power is using diesel generators, however, they are unreliable and cannot endure harsh conditions. Burning one liter of diesel emits around 2,7kg of CO2. There are millions of diesel generators worldwide and they contribute to a great deal of pollution. Diesel generators are often combined with lithium batteries for energy storage, which are heavy, discharge quickly and have long recharging times.

We believe there is a lack of viable (green) alternatives to diesel generators which is why markets have not transitioned to renewable energies, yet. We found out the pain points related to diesel generators and decided to develop a clean energy source that would also tackle most disadvantages of other solutions. To achieve carbon neutrality, it is important to offer clean energy solutions for all markets. This is what we have started by bringing to the market the first fuel cell based generator that works on pure hydrogen gas. Besides being environmentally friendly, it is also silent, compact, lightweight and maintenance-free. It is designed to replace diesel generators and heavy lithium batteries.

The first objective of the project is to gain insight into different target markets and create a pricing strategy for these markets. We need to obtain a better understanding of customer needs. Fuel cell technology has been inefficient and expensive, but this is changing and fuel cells are a viable option for many application these days. The second objective is to map out hydrogen network. Without a decent supply of hydrogen it will be very difficult to sell our generators. There has been a tremendous increase in hydrogen supply and availability worldwide and the pioneering companies are USA, Germany, Japan and South-Korea. Many hydrogen initiatives have been raised throughout Europe such as H2 Mobility, Hydrogen Europe and more. This signifies the importance of hydrogen and fuel cells in our future. The third objective is to perform commercial exploitation study as a preparations for patent filing. There are at least 2 patents that PowerUp plans to file in 2020. The fourth objective is to raise commercial readiness level by performing partner search, market entry strategy, conducting sales development plan and financial plan.
Our first activity concerned a wide-scale market research about yachting, motorboat and fishing boat markets, but also for boat manufacturers and rental companies. Based on the data and direct contact with customers, we achieved a better understanding of customer problems and needs. It helped us establish a pricing strategy for competitive and leisure sailing markets and get a good indication of market-acceptable price for camper vans and other off-grid applications.

Secondly, we mapped out hydrogen refilling stations in Europe, found alternative hydrogen refilling options and gathered data about refilling prices. Hydrogen refilling stations for cars can be used to refill our hydrogen cylinders, if certain conditions are met and we have the necessary connections for pipings. Our main ambition is to work together with big industrial gas companies in Europe to develop a swap system for hydrogen cylinders for our customers – they could bring their empty cylinders to certain drop-off locations and exchange it for a full cylinder. Throughout the project we found 2 potential partners for this with whom we are actively negotiating and there are 8 more with whom we would like to collaborate.

Together with 2 partners we performed freedom to operate analysis and set an initial strategy for IP management. We plan to file 2 patents this year regarding this project. We raised our commercial readiness level, secured a distribution partnership and are actively negotiating with prospects from different European countries. We conducted elaborated market entry strategy and sales development plan to reach our sales goals.
Our work led to some novel ideas where there is potential for our solutions and what we could be capable of developing. Based on our progress we believe that our products will lead to a significant improvement in clean energy generation and that our work and publications will enhance the future opportunities of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. We will create 25 jobs directly by 2023 and have a bigger impact indirectly. We have plans to bring to the market at least 3 more products in the next 3 years to offer a highly-specialised generator for different markets. These include 200 W, 800 or 1000 W and 5000 W generators. There are preparations done for fuel cell stack development to bring high-quality PEM fuel cells to the market. We continue to work on high-quality and innovative products.
Fuel cell generator
Fuel cell generator
Fuel cell generator