FuelCell Energy Acquires Full Stake in Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Developer Versa Power Systems

21 Dec 2012

  • Acquires World-class technology platform and expertise
  • Provides growth opportunities in adjacent markets

Versa Power Systems' Calgary facilityFuelCell Energy, Inc. has acquired the remaining shares of Versa Power Systems, Inc. (Versa). Versa is a leading solid oxide fuel cell developer with research facilities in Littleton, Colorado, USA and Calgary, Canada. FuelCell Energy previously owned approximately 39% of Versa; Versa is now a wholly owned subsidiary.

With this acquisition, FuelCell Energy holds a strong position in both molten carbonate and solid oxide fuel cell technology.

"We view solid oxide fuel cell technology as complementary to our carbonate fuel cell product line as we target megawatt and multi-megawatt applications with our Direct FuelCell® power plants and are attracted to solid oxide for future sub-megawatt power generation and storage applications," said Chip Bottone, President and Chief Executive Officer of FuelCell Energy, Inc. "By acquiring Versa, we can leverage our current infrastructure, expertise, and experience to accelerate the commercialization of this solid oxide fuel cell technology to expand our market opportunities."

"The Versa fuel cell technology has been termed world class by a number of independent experts based on the high power density, high efficiency, and level of scale attained in the size of the fuel cell stacks achieved to date, which drives the power generation capabilities," said Tony Leo, Vice President Application Engineering & Advanced Technology Development, FuelCell Energy, Inc. "Using the Versa technology and our expertise with fuel cell stacking and balance of plant, we are currently testing a 60 kilowatt solid oxide fuel cell stack that has exhibited performance providing approximately 60% electrical efficiency in a power plant system, and still provide usable exhaust heat for combined heat and power applications. This is an unprecedented performance potential."

Versa development activities include participation with FuelCell Energy in the U.S. Department of Energy Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) coal-based systems program. "We will continue to develop the Versa technology under the existing U.S. Department of Energy SECA program and are in advanced discussions with multiple partners for collaboration in commercializing the technology," said Mr. Bottone.

In addition, Versa is a supplier to The Boeing Co. under a U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program to develop long endurance unmanned aircraft. Versa's specialized solid-state SOFC technology is paired with solar equipment to provide an on-board source of power for propulsion and communication equipment. This system includes an energy storage mode, where the SOFC produces hydrogen by electrolysis from solar power during daylight charging periods and produces power by consuming stored hydrogen in fuel cell mode during night-time discharge periods. Versa technology is also being used in FuelCell Energy's unmanned submarine project, funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research, in which a high power density SOFC powerplant power system is used for large displacement undersea vehicle propulsion.

FuelCell Energy exchanged approximately 3.5 million shares of its common stock, valued at approximately $3.3 million, as the total consideration for the remaining Versa shares held by other Versa shareholders. Revenue and associated costs from Versa will be recognized under Research and development contracts in the consolidated financial statements of FuelCell Energy, Inc. Total research and development contract backlog will increase by approximately $6.0 million in the first quarter of 2013 due to the Versa acquisition.

Source: taken from FuelCell Energy press release

Image: Cell and stack test stands at Versa Power Systems' Calgary facility (source: Versa Power Systems)

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