Sponsored by Oregon Business

Startup turns methanol and water into hydrogen

| Print |  Email
Articles - November 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010


Element One has created a generator that will create fuel for hydrogen cells out of methanol and water. // PHOTO COURTESY OF ELEMENT ONE

Tech startup Element One this month launched a product that transforms methanol and water into hydrogen, paving its way to enter markets in the developing world. Its “Pegasus hydrogen generator” could provide fuel for hydrogen cells that power rapidly expanding telecommunication networks.

Produced in partnership with Taiwanese manufacturer CHEM, the Pegasus is poised to overcome a major obstacle in the use of hydrogen fuel cells as backup power sources. These backup systems use canisters that weigh up to 200 pounds to store hydrogen, a big transportation headache. “Our technology allows us to create hydrogen on demand,” says Element One COO Robert Schluter. Armed with the Pegasus, more remote locations can produce hydrogen from on-site 55-gallon drums of a methanol-water mixture. “A gallon and a half of methanol produces approximately the same energy as a [hydrogen] canister,” Schluter says.

So far this year, between 30,000 and 80,000 telecom towers and associated backup power units have been built in India, according to David Martin of Dantherm Power, a Danish company that makes emergency backup systems and is a potential customer of Element One. “At least half of these are off the grid,” he says.

Industry analysts emphasize the growing application of fuel-cell technology. “We are moving from the information age to the energy age to fuel economic growth,” Ruth Cox of the U.S. Fuel Cell Council says of the importance of energy access for telecommunications networks. Founded earlier this year, Element One has invested $650,000 in the production of the Pegasus units and plans to hire eight Bend-based employees by next year. The company also plans to sell 1,500 units in 2011, with the break-even cost at 200 units sold.

Although the science behind the Pegasus is promising, there remain obstacles such as possible erratic maintenance of remote power stations and general fear of technology that has not been tested in the marketplace. “There are growing pains,” says Patrick Noonan with the renewable energy group at New York-based accounting firm Marcum LLP. “It’s not commercially proven yet.”



0 #1 Interested EngineerGuest 2013-08-28 15:56:01
What ever happened to this promising technology and production plans?
Quote | Report to administrator

More Articles

Salad Days

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

How Portland's Garden Bar plans to become the Starbucks of salad.


Storyteller in Chief: Power Player

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

In 1996, after a 17-year career in the destination marketing industry, where I gained national standing as the CEO of the Convention & Visitors Association of Lane County, I was recruited by the founders of a new professional basketball league for women. The American Basketball League (ABL) hoped to leverage the success of the 1996 USA women’s national team at the Atlanta Olympics — much like USA Soccer is now leveraging the U.S. Women’s National Team’s victory in the World Cup. The ABL wanted a team in Portland, and they wanted me to be its general manager.


100 Best Nonprofits announced

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

1015-nonprofits01Oregon Business magazine has named the seventh annual 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon. The rankings were revealed Wednesday night during an awards dinner at the Sentinel Hotel in Portland.


Living the dream

Friday, August 21, 2015

smugglespearsthumbRenee Spears, founder and owner of Portland-based Rose City Mortgage, is hot to trot to sell pot.


Mayoral musings

Linda Baker
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
091515-mayors-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The 2016 presidential election is shaping up to be the year of the outsider, with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump capturing leads in the polls and the headlines. In Portland, Wheeler vs. Hales is bucking the outlier trend.


Storyteller in Chief: Brew Stories

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

Over the years, many mentors have taught me lessons that have helped shape the way I view the world of work and our business.


Baby. Boom!

September 2015
Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A new co-working model disrupts office sharing, child care and work-life balance as we know it.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02