Tokyo, February 24, 2009 - The Centre for Process Innovation Ltd. (“CPI”), Hitachi, Ltd. (NYSE:HIT / TSE:6501, “Hitachi”) and Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation (TSE:8036, “Hitachi High-Technologies”) have agreed to begin a joint evaluation aimed at developing applications for direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs) and creating a viable business in the U.K. Specifically, the three companies will jointly conduct field studies to assess the power generation performance and economic efficiency of various applications, which will be developed by CPI and powered by Hitachi's prototype 100 W-class portable DMFCs, including remote surveillance cameras and highway signage. The results of these trials will be used to select applications suited to DMFCs for the U.K. and assess the feasibility of a fuel cell business in the U.K.
CPI develops innovative technology within the process industries. It is a company limited by guarantee and was established by One North East, the Regional Development Agency for North East England. The U.K. government is actively promoting the adoption of new energy sources with high efficiency and a low carbon footprint. CPI believes that there is an opportunity to address these issues by introducing grid independent power supplies for a range of low power applications based on renewable energies. CPI boasts considerable advanced expertise, experience and technologies for developing various low carbon energy-powered applications. It has also been searching for compact, lightweight, portable DMFCs with high output and generating efficiency to advance the development of applications for an even wider range of fields.
Hitachi has been developing fuels cells since the 1960s and started developing DMFCs in 2001. Hitachi's prototype DMFCs were developed under the concept of creating power supplies that could be carried in one hand. These prototype DMFCs are compact and lightweight, yet have a high power output density. They are also highly efficient, with a power generation efficiency measured in terms of HHV*1 exceeding 25%.
Hitachi and Hitachi High-Technologies have studied the market for DMFCs for many years. Based on the results of these studies, Hitachi and Hitachi High-Technologies concluded that 100 W-class portable DMFCs are the most suitable products to launch in the early years of the market as they can flexibly and easily respond to user demands. So Hitachi have been working on developing suitable applications.
Framed against this background, the three companies reached today's agreement because Hitachi's DMFCs meet CPI's performance requirements and applications will be developed that meet Hitachi's and Hitachi High-Technologies' expectations. Generally speaking, DMFCs are superior to existing independent power supplies such as engine generators in terms of noise levels, vibrations and CO2 emissions. However, many problems related to power output density, cost and longevity must still be overcome. Today's agreement will see CPI develop applications such as highway signage and portable information systems using Hitachi-made prototype DMFCs. The applications will be tested in laboratories and in the field to assess the overall power generation performance and economic efficiency of DMFCs as the basis for selecting suitable applications. The marketability of the applications and viability of a fuel cell business in the U.K. will also be examined.
*1 HHV: Higher Heating Value