Italian university to assess ethanol fuel cell

By Ryan C. Christiansen | January 12, 2009
Web exclusive posted Jan. 19, 2009, at 9:50 a.m. CST

Helbio SA, a hydrogen and energy production systems company based in Rio, Greece, has received an order from the University of Milano in Milan, Italy, for a GH2-5000 Energy System fuel cell that will operate using ethanol. The university will evaluate the power system for a group of Italian investors.

Helbio is a subsidiary of Morphic Technologies AB, a fuel cell and wind turbine manufacturing company based in Kariskoga, Sweden. The fuel cell was manufactured by Exergy Fuel Cells, a subsidiary of Morphic based in Bologna, Italy.

The fuel cell ordered for the university will produce 5 kilowatts of electrical energy and 5 kilowatts of heat energy from ethanol. The ethanol is first converted to hydrogen using steam-reformation and a catalyst within a reactor. The hydrogen is then fed to the fuel cell. Morphic said the system is 90 percent efficient.

According to Johannes Falk, executive vice president of corporate strategy and investor relations for Morphic, the system that will be evaluated by the university is the second fuel cell of its kind sold by Helbio. The first unit was sold to the Patras Municipal Corp. for Water Supply and Waste Water Management in Patras, Greece, and has been in operation for the past six months. The fuel cell in Patras converts biogas from sewage into heat and also hydrogen for electricity. It produces 25 kilowatts of electrical energy and 25 kilowatts of heat energy.