- THE MAGAZINE
Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited recently announced that it has officially opened a high-volume manufacturing plant in Germany, reportedly one of the first in the world for the volume production of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) stacks. Ceramic Fuel Cells makes fuel cell modules that appliance companies can integrate into different products for many large global markets.
The first products to be powered by the company’s fuel cells will be compact generators for homes and other buildings that produce low-emission power, as well as heat for hot water or space heating. These products will meet the growing need for energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The manufacturing plant is located in an existing 4200-square-meter building in the Industriepark Oberbruch, 40 minutes’ drive from Dusseldorf in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany. The plant has a design capacity of 10,000 fuel cell stacks per year. Ceramic Fuel Cell’s investment in the plant construction, including state-of-the-art automated manufacturing equipment, will total €9.5 million (approximately $14.0 million). All pieces of equipment have been commissioned on-site and are operational.
The plant was officially opened by Jens Baganz, Ph.D., state secretary for the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, before more than 100 invited guests, including government representatives and key customers, suppliers, investors and media. Baganz welcomed the start of fuel cell production in Heinsberg. “Fuel cells with high efficiency are a key technology of the future with significant economic potential,” he said. “In Oberbruch, it is now possible that a future industry can be developed. Given the global challenges of climate change, there are very promising market opportunities for fuel cell technology.”
Ceramic Fuel Cells Chairman Jeff Harding said, “On behalf of the board of Ceramic Fuel Cells, we are delighted to open our factory in Heinsberg, Germany. This is an important milestone for the company because it allows us to move from making expensive ‘hand-built’ products to making semi-automated manufactured products at commercially competitive costs, and reflects two years’ work from our staff and key suppliers. We look forward to our Heinsberg plant making fuel cell stacks to go into our clean energy products for Europe, Australia and other global markets.”
Ceramic Fuel Cells has employed four full-time staff to manage the construction phase of the plant, and the company expects to hire additional local staff next year as production increases to meet orders. Ceramic Fuel Cells is developing clean energy products with leading appliance partners and utility customers in Germany, France, the UK and Japan. The company has also developed a modular power and heat generator called BlueGen that will be available to select customers in Europe and Australia beginning in early 2010.
To meet future growth, the plant can be expanded to a capacity of up to 160,000 fuel cell stacks per year in the same building. The company also holds an option over a nearby parcel of land for future greenfield expansion. Additional details are available at www.cfcl.com.au.