Acta Sees Accelerating Interest in Electrolyser Products for Fuel Cell Applications; Announces Results & Product Launch

27 Sep 2012

Acta CEO Paolo BertOn-site hydrogen-generation specialist Acta SpA today announced its interim results for the six months ended 30 June 2012. Key metrics such as product sales, orders and proposals pipeline are all increasing rapidly and the company is seeing a significant uptick in activity. The announcement can be viewed in full here.

Acta is a developer and manufacturer of a range of hydrogen generators based on its proprietary electrolyser technology, which allows for safe production of pure, dry and compressed hydrogen. Speaking to Fuel Cell Today, Acta CFO Paul Barritt said, “We have seen good take-up over the last six months and momentum is growing. It is clear from the responses of our customers and partners that they understand the benefits of our technology for fuel cell applications, where our on-site hydrogen generation products can add value at both the cost level and logistics level.”

CEO Paolo Bert told Fuel Cell Today that the company has recently begun seeing an unprecedented level of practical commercial interest as its electrolysers have achieved certification for use in several market sectors.

Bert said the company is now in the process of managing the transition to a fully commercial business in order to meet this demand. Several new members of staff have been appointed in sales support and technical production.

Demand is being seen in the following six applications:

Backup power for telecommunications base stations
Acta is working with system integrators to develop an integrated fuel cell–electrolyser backup power unit that will replenish its own hydrogen fuel reserves from water when the grid comes back online following a power failure. One of these systems is undergoing final testing and is expected to be shipped shortly for installation and demonstration with a major Australian telecoms company. There is also much interest in this application in Southeast Asia.

Renewable energy storage
For what could be a highly significant future market, Acta has developed an electrolyser to be powered directly from photovoltaic panels without energy conversion loss, combined with a rainwater collection module for the resupply of water to the electrolyser. This combination allows service-free operations for backup power systems in remote locations, and is also ideal for renewable energy storage applications (off-grid housing, eco-villages, distributed energy generation and storage, time-shifting etc). Acta is working with partners in Australia, Europe and elsewhere to specify and install demonstration systems.

Educational and laboratory applications
Following development of a drying unit to allow hydrogen purity of 99.9995%, Acta will be commercially launching its electrolyser for these applications at the global trade fair for educational resources Worlddidac Basel on 24 October 2012. The EL100 will be part of partner Heliocentris’ product range for educational institutions and laboratories sold worldwide and will be badged under its name.

Acta & Heliocentris Launch EL100

Light electric vehicles
Acta’s partner in this area, Asia Pacific Fuel Cell Technologies (APFCT), has made good progress over the summer with an 80-scooter beta test with the Taiwanese Government, and the release of road safety standards for fuel cell scooters by the Taiwanese and Chinese Governments, based on an extensive road test of APFCT’s scooters. Acta and APFCT are currently jointly developing a hydrogen refuelling station solution for fuel cell scooters, incorporating on-site hydrogen generation from the grid or renewable energy.

A further demonstration of this clean mobility solution was successfully carried out in Hawaii during August 2012. Photovoltaic panels were used to power Acta’s electrolyser, the hydrogen from which was used to refuel APFCT’s fuel cell scooters via a canister vending machine refuelling station. The partners believe that the demonstration of the technology in such a key environment will assist the adoption of the fuel cell scooters and refuelling system in Hawaii and the USA.

Consumer fuel cell applications
Acta is working with a leading fuel cell manufacturer for the development of small, low cost electrolysers to support the introduction of consumer fuel cell products (phone chargers, small electric devices, fuel cell bicycles, etc). Depending on the application, these electrolysers may range from very small desktop units up to domestic refuelling products. Acta hopes to be able to announce further details of these developments within the next four to six months.

Gas welding
Although not a fuel cell or clean energy application, sales in this area generate useful revenue. The development of the professional PUREFlame 600 model of Acta’s oxy-hydrogen gas welding system has created a wider interest in this technology, and demand is now being seen from distributors and manufacturers in Australia, Brazil and India for the product and production rights. Acta is considering subcontract production arrangements for the welding system in India and Brazil to access these markets without distracting resources from its core fuel cell markets.

Outlook
With increased volumes over the next 18 months, Acta expects a steady increase in revenues and a reduction in losses throughout 2013. It will continue to drive up product volumes, through demonstration and test installations, further partnerships with system integrators and product distributors, and market launches of products across a range of fuel cell and industrial gas applications.

Source: Acta / Fuel Cell Today

Images: Paolo Bert, Acta CEO (top); Heliocentris exhibiting Acta's EL100 at the Hannover Trade Fair 2012 (middle). Source: Fuel Cell Today.

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