The principal activity of the Bavaria-located company, Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH, is the development of hydrogen fuel cells and fuel cell hybrid systems as well as UPS and solar battery storage products. A fuel cell is a device that converts the chemical energy of a fuel and an oxidant into electricity. In principle, it functions like a battery but does not require recharging as long as an ongoing fuel source, such as hydrogen, is available. It also emits heat which can be used for example to support heating of passenger buses. This increases the system efficiency significantly.

Fuel cell systems with a CO2-free footprint are widely regarded as a potential alternative to internal combustion engines, power from fossil fuels and battery technology. Fuel cell systems produce no noxious gases and pure hydrogen fuel cells produce no harmful emissions such as carbon dioxide. There are a number of types of fuel cells, classified by the type of electrolyte used, including alkali, molten carbonate, proton exchange membrane (“PEM”), phosphoric acid, and solid oxide. Proton Motor has selected a “PEM“, based fuel cell as its main technology, because this is able to meet the overall criteria for the intended commercial applications.

FUEL CELL DESIGNER AND MANUFACTURER

The corporate story began as ”Magnet-Motor GmbH”, opening its factory in 1980. It`s a 100 percent subsidiary of its parent company ”Proton Motor Power Systems plc”. Since October 2006 the UK holding has been listed on the “Alternative Investment Market” (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange with the share code ”PPS”. The technology and application roadmap went from the world’s first triple hybrid fork lift truck to a fuel cell ship. After that Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH developed the triple hybrid Skoda bus in 2008. Containerized power solutions completed the application portfolio. All those applications are powered via own fuel cell stacks, with a robust design for a long lifetime. The company established operations close to the Munich area and was one of the first German designers and manufacturers of fuel cells.

The management board sees a strong movement in the market from pure battery driven to hybrid systems (fuel cells and batteries). It has significant clean competence regarding fuel cell stacks and hybridization. Over the years, different applications such as the Deutsche Bahn back up power solutions, the containerized 75 kW power solution for the Orkney Surf ‘n’Turf project, the TriHyBus in the Czech Republic, the SEV Newton truck respectively the current 2020 E-Trucks order and the ferry boat in Hamburg as well as the maritime pilot project for the Italian Fincantieri group are good examples of Proton Motor’s in depth know-how.

GENERAL OVERVIEW

The world is committed to protecting the environment. Cities and governments, pushed by the European Commission, must reduce inner-city pollution drastically. China fights against smog in its big cities. After ”Dieselgate” in the US and Europe, electric vehicles with batteries are on the move. All this is generating a market for clean transport and energy. Based on that development, the world market for fuel cell products and solutions is more active than ever.

The Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH has profound experience in applications in heavy duty vehicles such as buses and trucks, also in passenger vehicles, stationary power, ships and fork lifts. With less than 100 people it is relatively small but regarding experience a powerful company. It`s developing its own fuel cell stacks. Systems are designed from first simulation, prototype up to final solution for volume manufacturing. Proton Power is cooperating with German, European and China based companies in the field of fuel cell technology.

MARKET DRIVERS

The board believes the growth in the fuel cell market will be determined by the following factors:

• The ongoing depletion of fossil fuel reserves • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (“UNFCCC”) COP21 legalization on climate change • Current and future air quality regulation • Growing industrial and consumer demand for alternative sources of energy • The potential long term competitiveness of the auto and transportation industries • Energy security concerns • Limitations of purely battery powered propulsion systems • Solar power storage for private residences • Discussions regarding hydrogen as an energy storage for green energy (power to gas) • A growing global demand for transportation • Increasingly urgent demands for healthy breathable air in urban centers and for action to mitigate the adverse aspects of climate change and • The growing availability and the compelling economics of cleaner fuels.

STATIONARY AND MOBILITY APPLICATIONS

Fuel cell units for stationary applications can replace diesel generators in telecoms, data centers and ecological-houses. Proton Motor has a cooperation agreement with its major customer, DB Bahnbaugruppe GmbH, to replace old diesel back-up generators used to power track signals when there is disruption to the main power supply. The benefits for the end user are that these new units require less maintenance than the old polluting generators that were prone to algae build-up in the diesel tank, which causes high maintenance costs.

The mobility market includes city buses, airport vehicles, trucks, off-road vehicles and other such heavy-duty vehicles to fork lift trucks. The mobility sector sees many future challenges with emission free to automated driving with the vehicle becoming a power source itself. Mobile applications of the Proton Motor Fuel Cell technology will be seen in the public transport and logistics arena. Proton Motor was the first company to develop a hybrid range extender battery/fuel cell system. This technology permits the usage of both systems in an optimized way with long lifetime expectation. In the meantime, the range extender concept is adopted by the industry especially for heavy duty vehicle applications.

The ongoing “Dieselgate” situation and the COP21 targets present the industry as a whole, but in particular the automotive industry, with a huge challenge. Building on the success with the tourist ship in Hamburg, Proton Motor sells the know-how capability to partners to evolve this market. The company delivered the first feasibility study for an underwater vessel. Clean-tech power solutions for zero harmful emissions will become more diverse and more flexible.

FUTURE PROSPECTS, PRODUCTS, PROJECTS

Proton Motor is seeking to ramp up capacity to achieve organic growth through its own sales and production capacity, and is also seeking to achieve growth by offering licensing partnerships which will allow manufacture of the complete system locally by a licensing partner. It`s targeting mid-size technology companies as well as large multinationals to cooperate with.

The company sees growing market demand for safe power world-wide. Data center demand will be significant in the coming years. The combination of the fuel cell series with a UPS and the optimization of both systems will help to boost sales in the near future. Solar power storage with small cost-efficient systems by using batteries for private residences will also play an important role in the future. The newly designed product with capabilities to be integrated and controlled via a smart grid will also have great potential.

The board members believe that the advanced stage of commercialization of the technology will enable the business to establish itself firmly as a international leading fuel cell, fuel cell hybrid system as well as UPS and wind/solar power storage system provider. Furthermore, by ramping up new automatic manufacturing capabilities it will be able to produce up to 5,000 fuel cells per year. One highlight of 2020 will be the official opening of Europe`s first grid-connected hydrogen power plant in Rostock-Laage. The new project of the cooperation partner ”APEX Energy Teterow GmbH” bases on the container-integrated 100 kW fuel cell system from Proton Motor.

Article by: Manfred Limbrunner, Director Sales & Marketing

Proton Motor Fuel Cell GmbH

Benzstrasse 7, D-82178 Puchheim

www.proton-motor.de