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Alberta and Korean groups partner to establish new technology research centre


Edmonton, AB – Researchers from Alberta Research Council (ARC) recently saw their projects move from the discovery stage to development of an international research centre.

The team responsible for developing ARC’s high power density – solid oxide fuel cell (HPD-SOFC) technology have joined forces with the Chonbuk National University (CBNU) to pursue the establishment of a Micro-Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Research Center at the Korean university in Chonju, South Korea.

Fuel cell team leader Dr Partho Sarkar, joined by venture manager Dean Richardson and Engineered Products and Services (EPS) vice-president Ron Gilbertson, recently travelled to Chonju to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to pursue the establishment of the centre. The MOU is a three-year agreement between ARC, Chonbuk National University and the Chonbuk Provincial Government.

“This agreement will advance ARC’s fuel cell technology into the international marketplace,” says Mr Gilbertson. “Providing sustainable, environmentally friendly energy solutions is a key focus for ARC.”

Fuel cells offer clean energy solutions by using fuel more efficiently, thereby reducing air pollution (GHG and particulates) relative to competing energy conversion devices. From an operating and maintenance perspective, they require less maintenance, and operate more quietly. Additional advantages of ARC’s HPD-SOFC technology include fuel versatility, high power density per unit volume, and extremely rapid start-up times.

ARC’s current thrust in fuel cell systems has focused on large-scale power applications, using hydrocarbon fuels – by-products derived from Alberta’s vast energy reserves of oil, gas and coal – with the potential to create devices with power up to 1000W. Still in the R&D phase, the ARC says its fuel cell technology may be applied to such industries as defence, natural resource and infrastructure, or any company requiring remote power at several levels.

In Korea, the program is aimed at developing the HPD-SOFC technology for small energy systems (around 50W). With strong industrial capacity in consumer products in Korea, researchers there will apply their technical expertise in miniaturization to further develop ARC’s fuel cell technology for use in small-scale devices.