Senator Ellen M. Corbett announces grant to Fremont firm for Fuel Cell Technology

March 11, 2010

SACRAMENTO - Senator Ellen M. Corbett (D-San Leandro) announced today that Fremont-based XCell Power has received $94,910 from the California Energy Commission to study solid oxide fuel cell technology for auxiliary power units in long haul trucks. This technology will assist truckers in meeting new state anti-idling laws.

This proposed technology shows great promise in saving approximately 1,600 gallons of fuel annually and has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions annually by about 160 to 200 tons per truck.

"I'm pleased the California Energy Commission has recognized this cutting-edge technology that will help reduce pollution and keep jobs in my district," Senator Corbett said. "Investing in green jobs is one of the most important things we can do to keep our economy growing."

There are more than 480,000 heavy-duty trucks on the nation's roads. On average, these heavy trucks idle 20-40 percent of the time, using about 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel per truck per year. In an effort to curtail truck idling, new legislation has been enacted in California. Solid oxide fuel cells appear to be the most promising technology to feed auxiliary power units used in trucks that allow the driver to maintain power in the cabin without running the main engine. These fuel cells have demonstrated high efficiency, low emissions, and the potential to use readily available diesel fuel.

The technology is not yet commercially viable, lacking a reliable method of sealing the ceramic solid oxide fuel cells to the metal connections of the auxiliary power unit. XCell Power proposes to use an innovative plasma coating, reducing the component parts and increasing reliability. The manufacturing approach has the potential to greatly reduce overall costs and manufacturing time.

The Energy Commission's Energy Innovations Small Grant Program provides up to $95,000 for hardware projects and $50,000 for modeling projects to small businesses, non-profit organizations, individuals and academic institutions to conduct research that establishes the feasibility of new, innovative energy concepts.

The California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program supports public interest research and development of technologies that improve the quality of life in California by bringing environmentally safe, affordable, and reliable energy services and products to the marketplace. For more information about the PIER program, visit http://www.energy.ca.gov/pier/.