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GreenCell is engaged in a joint venture with SenCer Inc. to develop, commercialize and market SenCer’s UltraTemp™ ceramic composite materials for Home and Transportation applications. GreenCell has identified multiple industries with significant commercial applications with potential revolutionary results. Some of the many applications for this technology are SOFC Fuel Cells, Igniters, Braking, Oxygen Sensors, Ceramic Heaters.
GreenCell’s Plan for Development
Prototype Development: Because SenCer already has nine years of development in the core UltraTemp™ technology including years of research in Ceramic Heaters, Oxygen Sensors and Fuel Cells they estimate prototype development and testing will take 6-24 months. Through an initial development program with New York State, the proof of concept has been completed and device fabrication utilizing the technology has proven successful.
Intellectual Property protection and patents: A substantial budget is reserved for intellectual property protection. Preliminary existing patent reviews of this core technology and the potential devices developed from it, shows that several new patents can be awarded.
Ceramic Heaters/Igniters: SenCer Inc. has been approached by both original equipment manufacturers as well as the market leader of the technology to take advantage of their UltraTemp™ material properties to fabricate a low-cost igniter that can resolve all of the flaws of the current technologies. The original equipment companies and homeowner insurance companies are also interested in the development of a low-cost flue sensor based upon the same technology with a corresponding low cost control circuit.
O2 Sensor Licensing: Once they have protected their developments they will offer licensing opportunities with all the major O2 sensor manufacturers and OEM Partners. They will also have the ability to manufacture the sensor package themselves and deliver to market through existing sales channels.
Fuel Cell Stack Design: The UltraTemp™ core technology offers an integrated solution to fuel cell stack design, several major problem solutions to existing problems are possible with it. An integrated hydrogen sealed outer structure is possible that has low cost, and high life expectancy. The problem of degrading hot gas flow porting can be solved by integrated gas port channels within the structure. The UltraTemp™ supported cell design offers bi-cell capability with built-in fuel/air flow and combustion control, eliminating potential hot spots. The high temperature bonding of layers allows for rapid start-up and a high output potential several times higher than the current technology, thereby increasing output per size metrics. Overall thermal aging of the system is minimized since the thermal properties of the stack are developed from the same material base offering a matched thermal expansion.
As soon as the prototypes are completed they will begin work on the stack layout, gas flow and overall design. They will also apply their proprietary sealing technology to the outer casing and design high volume automated manufacturing methods.
GreenCell’s Core Technology
SenCer Inc. has developed a ceramic composite material called UltraTemp™ based upon ceramic fiber/ ceramic matrix combinations. Several blends have been developed with high purity oxide and carbide chemistries. These materials have exhibited excellent thermal and temperature stability as high as 1800°C. The physical pore structure and fiber physiology have allowed an unprecedented bond when coatings of high purity oxide and metals are placed on the surface and co-fired with the composite.
UltraTemp’s unparalleled qualities enable new applications that previously have not been possible.
GreenCell’s Ceramic Igniter Technology
UltraTemp™ and its ability to bond any ceramic or metal conductor would be ideally suited for use as a small systems igniter. Not only would the materials strength and durability be superior to existing Silicon Carbide (SiC) based igniters but it would be lower in cost to these igniters. The cost would also be much less than some of the newer offered technologies (silicon nitride – Si3N4). Since any resistance metallic ink can be tailored to the surface of UltraTemp™, no expensive power supplies would be needed and designs could be fabricated to any AC or DC voltage levels and resistances. Shape dependency tied to specific ceramic technology immediately goes away and simple as well as complex shapes with intricate patterns are possible. Since coatings can be overlayed, hermetic coatings are possible and SenCer Inc. has already developed a thermally matched pure glass and glass ceramic coating. These would be especially useful in any damp or corrosive environment as well as for advanced lifetime capabilities.
GreenCell’s O2 Sensor Technology: Automotive Oxygen Sensor
This technology has already been used to produce a ceramic based heater similar to the commercial Japanese automotive heater as well as some first O2 circuits during a fuel cell demonstration program. The following pictures show the technology being used for the O2 sensor heater. The ceramic coating for the O2 sensor is also shown in these pictures. Finally a graph of the response of these O2 heaters is shown against the leading Japanese company. The response characteristics are identical to the current O2 heater.
The proposed oxygen sensor would contain a thick film sensor containing the heater and ion conductor layer as a leaded insert. The layer would be inserted into a precut flange that would subsequently be glass bonded using a seal glass technology. This design will fit into the current thimble housing and lends itself to automated manufacturing. GreenCell already has developed a high temperature seal coat which is stable to 1400°C and can be masked around the sensor element. Proprietary electrode technology is already developed to replace platinum and SenCer has ink production facilities at its disposal. Padding and brazing technology is already established. The following drawings show the design and concept.
GreenCell’s Fuel Cell Technology
The proposed Fuel Cell Design stack design utilizes the same basic technology as proposed for the oxygen sensor. Proof of concept has been completed through a program funded by the New York State Energy Research Agency (NYSERDA). Most of the base concept work was done during this feasibility study and they were encouraged by the results. Although final fuel cell output was not demonstrated, earlier work on an inert anode cell showed it’s potential output at 2-3 times existing technology. Further work is now needed to provide exact aging and power output data as well as to simulate the best design. The following UltraTemp™ properties show the materials direct relationship and advantages to the new fuel cell design.
How Fuel Cells Work: Fuel cells generate electricity from an electrochemical reaction in which oxygen (air)and a fuel (e.g. hydrogen) combine to form water. There are several different types of fuel cell but they are all based around a central design. The electricity produced can be used to power all sorts of devices, from cars and buses to laptops and mobile phones. The by-product heat is also used in some applications, for example to keep houses warm.
What they describe as the fuel cell itself consists of a so-called fuel cell stack. A stack is basically built up of a number of individual cells.
Each individual cell within this stack has two electrodes, one positive and one negative, called the cathode and the anode. The reactions that produce electricity take place at the electrodes. Every fuel cell also has an electrolyte, which carries electrically charged particles from one electrode to the other, and a catalyst, which accelerates the reactions at the electrodes. The electrolyte plays a key role. It must permit only the appropriate ions to pass between the anode and cathode. If free electrons or other substances could travel through the electrolyte, they would disrupt the chemical reaction.
Utilizing a New Approach to Ion conducting Materials
Concept: SenCer Inc. has field test data supporting UltraTemp’s remarkable thermal properties and the bonding relationship with engineered oxide, conductive metals and ceramics coatings. SenCer can now develop devices based upon this new technology in the oxygen sensing (automotive and medical markets), oxygen generation and power generation (fuel cell technology). This approach can inherently improve the current generation of technologies and would provide a patent protectable development in advanced ceramics.
Many of the current device concepts are based upon the following model
The Concept has inherent property problems including:
• Thermal Properties Mismatch (Expansion and Conductivity)
• Poor Mechanical Properties (Due to limitations of Ion conducting materials + Conductive Layers)
• Debonding of Dense Layers at the Interface. (Poor Bond, Aging Effects)
• Difficult to modify chemical compositions and properties
• Difficult to Manufacture
Current device designs that utilize this approach include SOFC fuel cell components based on ion conductor (electrolyte) supported stacks, oxygen sensors, oxygen generators, and discrete electronic devices. These can be classed as electrolyte supported (flat plate SOFC fuel cell, oxygen sensors) or anode supported (tubular SOFC fuel cell).
SenCer’s New Concept
This concept has many benefits including:
• Controlled Thermal Properties (Expansion and Conductivity)
• Controlled Mechanical Properties inherent in UltraTemp™ substrate
• No limitations of Ion conducting materials + Conductive Layers
• Strong bonding of coated Layers at the Interfaces. (Reduces Aging Effects)
• Unlimited in size and complexity
• Automated Manufacturing possible
This could be thought of as a composite supported device as it relies on the thermal properties of the UltraTemp™ and the new physical and chemical bonding of the co-fired layers. The process can produce any shape in an inexpensive software based production environment.
Dec. 7 – GCLL announced it has commissioned the design and construction of a new high throughput roller hearth kiln from SenCer Inc. in preparation for its igniter volume scale-up. The roller hearth kiln will be made from UltraTemp-M composite rollers and will be fully automated. The unit will incorporate hot-zone panels made from UltraTemp-C to maintain chemical purity and high quality assurance on the GreenCell line. Multiple units will be available on a rapid construction basis to meet volume demands on GreenCells range of products.
Nov. 3 – GCLL announced that, after years of development, it has completed a fully operational ceramic igniter prototype using its proprietary Ultra Temp technology. The working prototype was developed by GreenCell under the direction of noted ceramic technology visionary David Burt, the GreenCell Chief Technology Officer. The Company further announced that it has a letter of interest with a major international appliance manufacturer and is working to commercialize the Ultra Temp igniter in the coming months.
Nov. 2 – GCLL announced that it has entered the world of nano-technology through a purchase of particle grinding technology that can produce pure materials in the nano-particle scale range. This technology is a match to GreenCell’s capability of measuring particles through this small laser particle analysis and surface area analysis.
Oct. 27 – GCLL announced it has completed development of a new manufacturing work center that deposits conductive traces onto ceramic surfaces. The development utilizes a combination of software and hardware to create a conductive pattern based upon any CAD based-3D model. Multiple devices can be rapidly manufactured and fast design change-out for other part lines can be done with simple software changes.
Market for GCLL’s Technology
The Market for Ceramic Igniters
SenCer Inc. has had several discussions with original equipment companies for the ceramic igniters. It is expected that a rapid commercialization of the UltraTemp™ igniter in a $600 million dollar global market can be achieved based upon addressing the industry need. There are an estimated 4 million gas fired furnaces produced by the OEM’s each year. The igniters cost $8-$10 each as a complete unit. Therefore, the igniter market for just new gas furnaces (which is a small portion of the overall igniter market) is $32-$40 million with a total overall market of approximately $600 million per year. Through the use of the proposed advanced ignition and sensing system, a reduction in home fuel energy reduction could be as high as 30%. The direct result of this development will be to offer better energy management, a safer environment for consumers, and a lower liability to original equipment manufacturers.
The Market for Oxygen Sensors
Global automobile production is currently 71 million vehicles per year. Each vehicle has an average of 2 oxygen sensors per bank of cylinders. Air quality legislation mandates tighter emission controls and the number and complexity of oxygen sensors is increasing. Recent legislation in the United States doubled the number of oxygen sensors in each vehicle. As these vehicles age (80,000 – 100,000 miles) every oxygen sensor will have to be replaced. We estimate the global market for oxygen sensors including Tier 1 OEM supply and aftermarket to be greater than 8 billion dollars per year and growing.
The Fuel Cell Market and General Information
Evidence suggests that commercialization of the fuel cell began in 2007. This belief is based on the increase in manufacturing capability, decreasing costs and the increasing number of OEM tie-ups which took place during the year. Fuel cell technology is being pulled into the market by concerns over climate change, air pollution and dependence on imported fuel, and by the consumer-led demands for longer product run time and greater power requirements in portable devices.
As a technology fuel cells are highly efficient, offer a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and are modular, allowing a scalable approach to increased power requirements, Currently, fuel cells are relatively expensive (due to platinum content) and there are a number of issues outstanding in terms of research, development and demonstration, codes and standards, fuel infrastructure and distribution.
Over the past three years the industry has seen an annual growth rate of 59% in fuel cell units delivered, with some 12,000 new units shipped during 2007. Fuel Cell Today estimates that the current global manufacturing capability for fuel cells is over 100,000 units per year, with a quarter of this coming from companies whose business activity is exclusively the development of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.
Plans for Commercialization
GreenCell’s activities and objectives are divided into two areas; short term and long term. This helps them avoid the principle pitfall of most fuel cell companies, the fact that full commercialization is just beginning and will ramp up over the next 10 years.
Short term revenue Oxygen Sensors
They have the methods and technology to significantly cut the materials costs of O2 sensors while end running all the existing patents. This same technology has applications in other automotive applications. They believe this technology can be available for licensing within 2 years.
Longer term revenue Fuel Cells
The development of energy-efficient, environmentally friendly fuel cell technologies. GreenCell’s groundbreaking technology solves the two most persistent problems in fuel cell design – cost and durability – by replacing expensive platinum conductors with co-fired proprietary ceramic conductive layers. This is a breakthrough approach, and they are pleased to position GA at the forefront of this important effort through our joint venture with SenCer, which over the last 10 years has provided research and core ceramic materials to some of the leading developers of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC). They believe they can generate commercial (non-government) revenue from fuel cells within 4-6 years. The fuel cell market is expected to deliver exponential growth over the next 15 years as fossil fuels are phased out in transportation applications.
Revenue Model O2 Sensors
Their first revenue stream will come from licensing thier O2 sensor technology.
They have several differentiating features which will most definitely generate interest on the part of the world’s leading O2 sensor manufacturers. First and foremost current technology requires the use of platinum, a very expensive material. Their design uses ceramic composites and Cermet materials instead. In addition, one of the principle problems in O2 sensor design is the cover of the tip. This is a coated metal with baffles that allow the exhaust gasses access to the sensing tip but not the full flow of gas pressure in the exhaust tube. These tips corrode and are a major cause of component failure. GCLL can avoid this by creating an Ultra-Temp tip that is porous and resistant to the harsh conditions within the exhaust system.
They can be ready to patent and protect their technology in less than 18 months. At that point they will show prototypes to the largest O2 sensor manufacturers and begin licensing the technology.
Revenue Models Fuel Cells
Although fuel cell technology is now beginning to see genuine commercialization on a small scale, high volume demand may be as far as 10 years away depending on geopolitical and economic forces. Two of the current business models in the fuel cell industry are stack developers and IP producers. Stack developers manufacture fuel cell stacks for use by third parties. IP producers work on producing intellectual property which they lease/license to third party companies. GCLL’s model is a hybrid of both current models. They will develop and manufacture fuel cell stacks and stack components but they are also gearing to license the technology, supply the proprietary ingredients and lease the special machinery to large companies who wish to ramp up high production systems. This puts them in control of the production process and GreenCell in control of the technology.
In the shorter term, they intend to approach a set of interested customers in the transportation industry to form a consortium of users of their stacks. They can then contract for both stack supply and technology transfer. In addition, GreenCell’s license gives it ownership of all future developments created under the GreenCell umbrella. This is a significant potential revenue stream as technology developed under the GreenCell license can be used in many applications.
Recent GCLL News:
December 7 – GreenCell, Inc. Announces it Has Commissioned the Design and Construction of a New Technology High Throughput Production Kiln
GreenCell, Incorporated (OTCBB:GCLL.OB – News) today announced it has commissioned the design and construction of a new high throughput roller hearth kiln from SenCer Inc. in preparation for its igniter volume scale-up. The roller hearth kiln will be made from UltraTemp-M composite rollers and will be fully automated. The unit will incorporate hot-zone panels made from UltraTemp-C to maintain chemical purity and high quality assurance on the GreenCell line. Multiple units will be available on a rapid construction basis to meet volume demands on GreenCells range of products. Dan Valladao, CEO and President, stated, “This is just another important step in preparing the company for full scale up of our revolutionary new ceramic igniter to meet our expected market demands.
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