In 2003, four engineering students from the University of Aarhus, studying in a department of the university located in the Jutland town of Herning, started up a company called H2 Logic, with the vision of developing technologies that could enable fuel cells to become a commercially viable alternative to internal combustion engines and batteries as a motive power solution, with the environmental advantages of silent operation and zero CO2 emissions.
Five years later, the still youthful H2 Logic is a significant step closer to the ultimate realisation of its ambitions. Last month, the firm signed a 2-year strategic supply agreement with Canada's Ballard Power Systems, the world’s largest fuel cell stack manufacturer. And last weekend, H2 Logic announced that it is to supply fuel cell hybrid vehicles and hydrogen filling stations for the 'Hydrogen Link West Denmark' project, part of a Danish network for advancing hydrogen for transport, which is due to start up in June 2008.
Getting a deal with no less a name than Ballard is heady progress for a fledgling firm, but H2 Logic is keeping its feet firmly on the ground. On their website, the fuel cell powered vehicle applications they envision are sensibly small-scale - warehouse vehicles such as forklifts, service vehicles for airports, hospitals and city parks, golf carts, personal transport for the disabled, and city car runabouts, in combination with the necessary hydrogen refuelling units.
But although the applications may be small-scale in terms of vehicle size, the markets that could possibly open up as a result could be gigantic. The global focus on climate change and anthropogenic CO2 emissions is exerting a powerful influence on future commercial directions in motive power, and the fuel cell has a compelling sales story to tell: by using surplus wind energy to electrolyse water, energy can be stored in the form of hydrogen, which the fuel cell in turn converts back to water (using free oxygen from the atmosphere), re-releasing the stored energy as electricity to drive a motor.
One of the four students who founded H2 Logic is Mikael Sloth, who is now the company's business development director. "For us its all about gaining maximum speed from the following wind that the global focus on climate is currently giving our company," he told financial daily newspaper Børsen. Sloth also has ideas on how far that following wind might take them. "We aim to be the kind of future global industry that Vestas is today in the wind industry," he says.
Vestas is a Danish company, and is also currently the biggest wind turbine manufacturer in the world. H2 Logic is clearly not lacking in ambition, as it pursues its vision.