Advanced R&D Projects

As a developer of innovations in energy technology, Atrex Energy continues to develop new applications and enhancements for its existing technology as well as creating products around new technologies.

Using conventional and renewable liquid fuels in the fuel cell:  Atrex commercial products are designed to use natural gas and propane.  With additional processing steps, the units have also been demonstrated to run on ultra-low sulfur diesel, biodiesel, and military logistics fuel (JP-8).  Supported by a number of R&D contracts, these innovations are progressing to a commercial stage.

Work is also progressing on using these fuels directly in the fuel cell tube, like done with natural gas and propane, to remove the need for additional reforming steps.  This development is following that of liquid fuels with an external reformer and is also supported by outside R&D sources.

Larger fuel cell generators:  Atrex is well along in designing a 5-10,000 watt unit to serve larger loads.  This work is currently being done in conjunction with the commercialization of the liquid fuels pre-processor, but will result in a unit that can also be fueled with natural gas or propane.

Micro-combined heat and power (Micro-CHP):   By using the waste heat in the exhaust stream from the fuel cell, Atrex can provide hot water to users as well as power.  Atrex has developed prototypes of a 1 kW Micro CHP product with a European appliance manufacturer and is looking to bring a larger version of that unit to North America.

Hybrid vehicle range extender:  Our partner, Ascend Energy, a California company, with funding from an Energy Innovations Small Grant (a California state energy agency) is demonstrating the use of the Atrex Energy fuel cell as an on-board range extender for an all-electric farm utility vehicle.  These vehicles are important in reducing pollution in poor air quality parts of California's Central Valley, but the battery-only versions did not have acceptable range.  With the Atrex Energy SOFC, there are no practical range limitations.  We are also demonstrating the ruggedness of the fuel cell and how it doubles the efficiency of using natural gas or propane directly and avoiding the losses of making hydrogen from these same fuels.

Carbon recycling:  In conjunction with New CO2 Fuels, Ltd. in Israel, Atrex is developing a revolutionary technology that will convert carbon dioxide and water back into fuel economically and at high efficiency.  In brief, the Atrex fuel cell technology can be operated in reverse so long as an economical source of heat at 1000ᵒ C is identified.  There are many industrial processes that have waste heat at these temperatures, as well as streams of concentrated CO2.  While at an early stage, research on this process looks promising.

Compact power generators:  Atrex has identified technologies other than fuel cells that can meet the demand for portable power in small, lightweight packages with low noise and low emissions, borrowing from some products in the aerospace industry. 

In addition to these specific areas, the engineering team at Atrex is continuously searching for possible new products and enhancements that will better serve customer needs for small-scale energy solutions.

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