Danish industrial heavyweight Haldor Topsøe A/S is to put DKK 100 m (USD 17 m) into its fuel cell development programme, in which Risø National Laboratory is also participating. Over the next couple of years the cash will be invested in the subsidiary Topsøe Fuel Cell, specifically for pilot production of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC)* at the firm's main location in Lyngby north of Copenhagen.
Thereafter it is planned to build a full scale plant, slated to come on stream in 2010. Topsøe Fuel Cell's MD Claus Olsen comments: "Now we are beginning to move forward. If things go according to plan, we expect to achieve revenues of DKK 1-2 billion, or perhaps even more, in 2015." By that time, the total fuel cell market in Europe and North America is expected to be worth approx. DKK 15 bn (USD 2.6 bn ).
Meanwhile Haldor Topsøe faces stiff competition from General Electric in the US and Germany's Siemens, in the race to market. Fuel cells have commercial potential for heat and electricity production in both mobile and stationary applications. The mobile segment includes refrigerated trucks and ships, while the stationary segment typically includes hospitals and supermarkets. The news was reported by national daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende.
For over 50 years, Haldor Topsøe has supplied the full range of catalysts required for the production of ammonia, methanol, formaldehyde, sulphuric acid and hydrogen - the latter being the primary feedstock for fuel cells. Topsøe is one of the major catalyst manufacturers worldwide.
* SOFC is reputed to be the most efficient fuel cell technology. Due to the relatively high operating temperature (600-1000°C) it can run on a wide range of fuels such as natural gas, biogas and ethanol – Ed.