Fuel cells convert energy from a fuel into electrical energy. Hydrogen fuel cells generate electricity through an electrochemical reaction using hydrogen and oxygen. Fuel cells are different from conventional batteries in that they can be “recharged” by simply filling them up with more fuel, typically hydrogen. Fuel cells are clean in that their “waste” output is plain water.
Hillsboro-based ClearEdge Power makes fuel cells, which use natural gas to generate electricity. Southern California Gas invested $1 million in ClearEdge.
Unfortunately, ClearEdge filed for Chapter 11 protection in May of 2014 reports The Oregonian. Over the last year, the company raised funding rounds of $36 million and $5 million and moved its headquarters from Hillsboro to Sunnyvale, California. It raised nearly $75 million three years ago.
Between 2005 and 2008, the state Energy Department signed off on Business Energy Tax Credits for ClearEdge totaling $8.2 million. The company made nearly $5.9 million by selling the credits at a discount to other taxpayers in exchange for cash, according to state records.
ClearEdge laid off 268 workers in Connecticut. That move came after a major order that executives had expected failed to materialize.
Their fuel cell, the ClearEdge5 (right), was said to consume about 40% less fuel than power and heat delivered through the grid.
ClearEdge has about 100 units deployed on the West Coast and in Korea where the company signed a strategic partnership in June to deliver 800 of the fuel cells over three years.
Bloom Energy uses stacked fuel cells, housed in a refrigerator-sized unit – the Bloom Box. It typically uses natural gas to generate electricity.
Apple is buying fuel cells from Bloom Energy for its data center in Maiden, North Carolina. Apple is planning to build a massive 4.8 MW fuel cell farm for a data center that will consume 20 MW, according to Apple’s latest figures. Apple is also building a similar data center next to Facebook’s data center in Prineville, Oregon.