Thursday, October 25, 2007

News from the Malay Pennisula

With all the excitement of the 31st Fuel Cell Seminar, the California fires, and the brutal crushing of the Rockies by Josh Beckett and the Red Sox, I just want to keep everyone on top of events a short 12,000 miles (20,000 km) from here.

Firstly, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, an orthopodic surgeon from Kuala Lupur became Malaysia's first astronaut last week, and lived to tell about it. A computer glitch caused the Soyuz spacecraft to fall at high speed and missed its landing spot by 200 km. But he's ready to return.

And in more Earth-bound flight news, the Airbus super jumbo jet made its maiden voyage yesterday form Singapore to Sidney, with passengers paying up to $100,000 for the pleasure (first class includes double-bed furnished rooms) with proceeds going to charity. The jet, with capacity of up to 800 people, is representative of advances being made which will eventually include the total electrification of all (currently hydraulic) systems. Both Airbus and Boeing have made major long-term commitments, and investments, in developing megawatt-class SOFC APU units, expected to use standard jet fuel and be available by 2015.

My Singaporean fuel cell specialist pointed out that my favorite question mark (?) FC developer, suburban Kuala Lumpur based Agni Inc., has broken ground on its 65M euro manufacturing plant in Portugal. The company still has the most comprehensive environmentally oriented web site laden with actual science and plans for PEM-based tri-genration (you need a lot of AC in Malaysia) facilities that efficiently recylce all types of of organic and other waste. Malaysia does have a lot of cars and smaller motorized vehicles, a lot of deforestation, and a lot cellulosic waste from palm oil production. So is Agni for real? We'll have to wait and see.

And from a company that is for real, Rolls Royce Fuel Cell's US head of operations Mark Fleiner said in the excellent CEO roundtable held the final morning of the Seminar, that although RR will remain tight lipped about its progress (because it can), it is securely financed by the UK parent for years to come, and the investment by Singaporean consortium headed by EnerTek is resulting in a major manufacturing facility being built there in anticipation of the planned multi MW SOFC combined cycle gas turbine hybrid generating plant production.

Whew. It is hot down there.

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