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Newsletter February 2010

IQ - INNOVATION QUOTIENT

Advent Technologies: Fuel Cells for the Future

Featured on CNN’s World Report, Advent Technologies develops new materials and systems for renewable energy sources. A spin-off of the Foundation for Research & Technology-Hellas (FORTH-ICEHT) and the University of Patras, Advent is at the forefront of new fuel cell technologies, one of the most promising sources of clean energies that the world is embracing.

The company has headquarters in Athens, research development and manufacturing space in Patras, Greece, and a location in North America.

Fuel cells are highly promising since they generate power with no real pollutants, and have byproducts of heat and water. Unlike batteries, which store chemicals and produce electricity but “die” and must be thrown away or be recharged, fuel cells can produce a constant flow of electricity.

According to Dr. Vasilis Gregoriou, CEO and co-founder of Advent, fuel cells are at the heart of the green, hydrogen economy of the future. Advent is a very high tech company that supplies its products not only to industry—VW in Germany is one client—but to university labs and research institutes worldwide.

Fuel cells have applications in a wide number of areas; they can replace batteries, with up to 10 times the life of a battery, be used in power plants, and as generators. In the key transport sector, fuel cells are being developed to replace the petroleum internal combustion engine. The technology is also applicable in the photovoltaic industry, demonstrating its widespread application.

The prevailing PEM fuel cell technology is low temperature (70 to 100oC), based on a PTFE (a perfluorinated copolymer from DuPont and others). PEM technology has not been widely deployed as fuel cell manufacturers have struggled since the 1980s to increase the durability and lower the cost of PEM fuel cells, which exhibit some negative attributes that limit commercial proliferation.

Advent Technologies High Temperature (160-200°C) MEA (Membrane Electrode Assembly) is based on pyridine type proprietary ADVENT TPS® polymer electrolytes. ADVENT TPS® technology is polybenzimidazole (PBI) free and less expensive than the competition, allows the use of fuels with high CO content and reduces the complexity and the cost of the final PEM fuel cell system.

 The advantages of the Advent technology are:
• Operational temperature 160-200°C
• Pyridine based aromatic polyether electrolyte
• High Carbon monoxide tolerance
• Long term stability with small voltage drop
• Zero degradation under cycling operating conditions
• Endurance under differential pressure
• No need for humidified gases
• Easier to mass produce due to favourable membrane properties
• Low cost

Advent Technologies in North America

Advent Technologies has made the important strategic move to the United States with its location in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (ADVENT TECHNOLOGIES NORTH AMERICA INC., founded July 2006) and in a strategic collaboration with Northeastern University of Boston. The activity at the Northeastern-Greece Initiative started a long term research and service agreement between Northeastern University and Advent Technologies SA for the joint development of intellectual property in the area of fuel cells. Northeastern hosted Advent Technologies scientists performing research there. The North American location offers the company the opportunity to monitor not only the U.S. market, but the global market as well, and to identify key players of the fuel cell industry, leading to the establishment of strategic collaborations.

Funding has come from industrial partners (Systems Sunlight S.A., Velti PLC, ILPRA S.A.,), institutional investors (Piraeus Capital Management, Dolphin Capital PLC) and private investors.

Products and R&D

Advent is in the process of scaling up a series of contract manufacturers in monomer production, polymerization, membrane manufacture, and MEA manufacture. Each of these steps in the chain benefit from the expertise of selected parties, as well as eliminate the need for vast capital investments.

Membranes and HT MEAs - Advent TPS®

Two lines of products are currently been offered under the trade name Advent TPS®
• Membranes
• High Temperature MEAs ranging in size from 25 cm2 to 600 cm2.

The Advent business concept is currently being transformed and upgraded from the existing membrane and MEA business to include complete fuel cell systems, comprised of the following main units and functions:
- Complete stack with hydrogen and air feed systems and internal cooling
- Temperature control and electrical power control
- External cooling and heat power interface to heat consumer

Intellectual Property

The company has already two U.S. patents allowed and has filed a total of nine patent applications with the US Patent Office with the assistance of Edwards, Angel, Palmer & Dodge in Boston, and Saul Ewing LLP in Washington, DC to protect its core MEA high temperature technology. 

In addition, the company has received the worldwide exclusive rights to one Greek patent filed by the company on behalf of the University of Patras and FORTH-ICEHT, two U.S. patents from the University of Patras on co-developed work on flexible photovoltaics and modified carbon nanotubes suitable for renewable energy applications and is negotiating the license of two U.S. patents from Northeastern University on catalyst preparation developed jointly with the Company. 

For more information visit the Advent website: http://www.adventech.gr/
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