Plug Power Inc., and GE MicroGen announced that they have signed a development agreement with Joh. Vaillant GmbH u. Co. of Remscheid, Germany, a European heating appliance manufacturer. The agreement is for a combination furnace, hot water heater and fuel cell system that will provide both heat and electricity for a residential home. The fuel utilization efficiencies of this appliance are expected to be twice that of many existing conventional power plants, and the appliance is anticipated to improve the overall energy efficiency of the home to 80% or more.
Under the agreement, Valliant will obtain fuel cells and gas-processing components from Plug Power and then produce the fuel-cell heating appliances for its customers in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Valliant will also produce these appliances for GE MicroGen, who will then market them under the GE brand name throughout Europe. The appliances are scheduled for testing in European markets by the end of 2001, with sales to begin in 2003.
In a related announcement, Plug Power reported that it is providing electricity to what it claims is the "first residence to be powered by a fully integrated natural gas fuel cell system" at a demonstration home in Latham, NY. The home has run completely on natural gas since August 1999.
The system includes Power Plug's fuel cell stack, containing its proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell that the company reported was successfully run for over 10,000 hours earlier this year.