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Fuel-cell production plant begins operations in Yokohama

Fuel-cell production plant begins operations in Yokohama
SMILE FC ready-to-scale fuel cells production plant in Yokohama, Japan. (Photo: Business Wire)

A ready-to-scale production plant for fuel-cell systems has opened its doors in Yokohama, Japan.

SMILE FC System Corporation, a joint venture between British fuel cell power systems firm Intelligent Energy and Japanese vehicle manufacturer Suzuki Motor Corporation, will be using semi-automated production technology developed by Intelligent Energy to supply fuel cell stacks for Suzuki vehicles.

“Fuel cell systems provide one of the best solutions to reducing carbon emissions from vehicles. The Yokohama production line is testament to the rigorous, results-oriented collaboration between Intelligent Energy and Suzuki Motor Corporation – one that brings us a step closer to the commercialization of fuel cell electric vehicles,” said Dr. Henri Winand, chief executive at Intelligent Energy.

The establishment of the manufacturing facility in Yokohama marks the first successful transfer of Intelligent Energy’s fuel cell production technology.

The joint venture has access to Intelligent Energy’s fuel cell technology under a non-exclusive license. This will allow Suzuki to use Intelligent Energy’s Air Cooled Fuel Cell technology.

The Air Cooled fuel cell systems employ low power fans to provide cooling, conducting heat generated by the fuel cells operations to cooling plates and removing them from the system through airflow channels.

“We are delighted to achieve such a significant milestone just one year after the establishment of the JV. It brings us closer to delivering on our commitment to achieve efficient and cost-effective production of fuel cell systems for integration into clean energy vehicles,” said Osamu Honda, president of SMILE FC and executive vice president of Suzuki.

SMILE FC will be also developing and manufacturing the Air Cooled Fuel Cell technology for a range of other industry sectors.

The joint venture was first announced in February 2012, with both Suzuki and I.E. taking a 50 percent stake in SMILE FC. SMILE FC headquarters is in Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture and it maintains a research facility in Suzuki’s Yokohama Laboratory.

Before this, Suzuki and I.E. had already been cooperating in the development of fuel cell vehicles using Air Cooled systems. This includes the Burgman Fuel Cell Scooter, which in March 2011 became the world’s first fuel-cell vehicle to earn European Whole Vehicle Type Approval in the European Union.

The Burgman Fuel Cell Scooter uses the combined power of fuel cells and lithium ion batteries for clean, emission-free driving with a range of about 350 kilometers per tank. – EcoSeed Staff

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