Astris Energi Reveals Fuel Cell Development Progress

March 16, 2000 by Jeff Shepard

Astris Energi Inc. (Canada) recently revealed that it has achieved substantial progress in the development of commercially viable alkaline fuel cells as power sources for vehicles and other applications.

Guided by Jiri K. Nor, a pioneer developer of fuel cell technology, Astris has been quietly pursuing that goal for nearly 17 years and has devoted more than $12.0 million to the effort, part of which was supported by grants from the Canadian government. Teams of scientists and engineers, both in Canada and in the Czech Republic, have made remarkable advances in the translation of fuel cell technology used in all manned space vehicles to efficient and economical power sources for industrial and commercial uses on the ground.

"Some years ago, Astris Energi chose the alkaline fuel cell technology for commercial development," Nor said, "because of its significant advantages over the competing polymer electrolyte membrane concept, especially in cost. Astris' Energy Master alkaline fuel cells have been designed to use base metals of metal-oxide plates while PEMs require expensive platinum."

"We have been concentrating recently on 1kW to 5kW systems suitable for golf carts, fork-lift trucks and similar vehicles," Nor said, adding that the company's Czech subsidiary has already completed and operated a 4kW system. "We are now entering the latter stages of this program and believe we will be able to demonstrate a viable fuel-cell-powered golf cart, as an example of our system's capabilities, within the next year," Nor commented.