The Fuel Cell Expo and Japan’s Hydrogen Energy Future

It’s been a big year for fuel cells in Japan, with a lot happening in the automotive arena. First, Toyota made available all of their hydrogen fuel cell patents  to promote the development and commercialisation of fuel cell electric vehicles. Then, the Japanese government announced that they’re planning on spending $385 million on fuel-cell vehicle subsidies and hydrogen stations for the 2020 Olympics. Clearly, Japan is one of the pioneers of  a new alternative energy future with hydrogen at the forefront, which makes sense given their ongoing struggle with CO2 emissions(at the year end of March 2014, they reached a record high of 1.2 billion metric tons released) and the move away from nuclear power following the Fukuoka disaster.

Fuel Cell Expo

Photo Credit: www.fcexpo.jp

As leaders in hydrogen fuel cell development, Intelligent Energy has had a strong presence in Japan for some time, particularly in the automotive market. We first partnered with Suzuki back in 2006, and together produced the Suzuki Fuel Cell Burgman scooter, the first fuel cell vehicle of any type to receive whole vehicle type approval. Further to this, in 2012, Suzuki and Intelligent Energy formed the joint venture company, Smile FC System Corporation, to develop and manufacture fuel cell systems.

So what’s the next big thing in Japan with hydrogen fuel cells? That’s what was discussed at the Fuel Cell Expo at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center that took place from February 25 through February 27. As the world’s leading hydrogen fuel cell exhibition and conference, it gathered together all the best products, technologies, information and leaders in the industry to share ideas about how best to improve technology and learn more efficient techniques.

Besides the push around fuel cell electric cars, there was other hydrogen technology that caught our eye: a portable hydrogen station mounted on the back of a truck, an infra-red sensing hydrogen dispenser and updates to existing models of hydrogen fuellers that will make them more efficient.

Were you at the Expo? What was your favorite exhibition and trend highlighted there?

Highlights from Mobile World Congress

Ikea Announces Charging Furniture, FCC Tells Telecom and Energy Providers to Unite, and Facebook Looks to Build a Connected World.

MWCPhoto Credit: Pepcom

We’ve been at Mobile World Congress all week showing off our Upp and catching the latest and greatest that the mobile industry has to offer. Historically a meeting of the major telecom providers, Mobile World Congress has morphed into a show-and-tell of wearables and smart consumer products with much of the conversation focused on how we will power this newly connected world. In case you missed the highlights, let us draw your attention to some of our favorite announcements from Barcelona.

Ikea and Samsung Announced Wireless Charging Furniture

Get ready to ditch tangled bedside chords and unsightly wires in the living room. Swedish furniture maker Ikea announced plans to begin selling furniture with built-in Qi wireless charging, available in April 2015. The new furniture will be compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge and covers will be available for incompatible iPhone and Samsung models. The idea is that you could place your smartphone on a piece of furniture embedded with the charging technology and it will power up wirelessly.

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Photo Credit: Ikea

FCC Asked Telecom Providers To Work with Energy Companies

Aside from the obvious focus of FCC chairman Tom Wheeler’s talk on the commission’s move to regulate the Internet, he said telecom operators should be able to provide 5G specialized network services to a series of new industry partners, including those in the energy sectors. He noted, “the advanced 5G infrastructure is expected to become the nervous system of the digital society and digital economy.” And as we look to connect everything from cars and coffee mugs to hospitals and factories to the Internet, it will be critical to build a new and improved generation of communication networks.

Facebook Wants to Build a Connected World

Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared an update on the company’s Internet.org project, which aims to bring Internet access to “over 90% of the global offline population who live in developing countries.” According to the company’s newsroom, “for the past year Facebook has worked with mobile operators to grow the number of people accessing the Internet. Through the Internet.org app, more than 500 million people in six countries can now access useful health, employment and local information services without data charges.”

As always, GSMA put on an insightful and forward thinking conference that left us excited for building an ever-connected world. Notably one of the biggest themes was the evolution of wireless technology.  As people continue to embrace ubiquitous wireless technology, and as our data consumption increases, we are rapidly approaching a point where battery limitations and the hassle of power sockets are limiting our ability to be truly mobile. Until next year, Barcelona!

Air Quality Today – The Cost of Doing Nothing

All around the world, our air is literally killing us. According to a report from the World Health Organization, polluted air accounted for seven million deaths globally during 2012. To put that in perspective, this is the entire population of Hong Kong.

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Not surprisingly, the developing regions were hardest hit, with 5.9 million air pollution-related deaths in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific alone. In India, a generally heightened reliance on oil has combined with increased coal consumption to trigger a 4.4 percent rise in CO2 emissions, leading to pollution that’s eating into crop yields. In China, cities such as Beijing, where air quality index (AQI) readings commonly exceed levels that the WHO considers unsafe, have at times been declared “almost uninhabitable.”

But dangerous levels of air pollution aren’t limited to the developing world. In London, nitrogen dioxide pollution in the Oxford Street shopping district reached its legal limit for the year just four days into 2015, and the London Mayor is under pressure to “reduce pollution a lot sooner than 2020 and cover a wider area,” said the London Assembly. In Japan, CO2 emissions reached a record high of 1.2 billion metric tons released during the year ended in March 2014. Even the tiny Persian Gulf island nation of Bahrain, one of the world’s richest, was among the 10 countries with the most polluted air in the world during 2014, according to the WHO.

One of the greatest hopes for reversing this alarming trend rests with alternative energy sources, and that’s why we at Intelligent Energy believe we’ll be able to help take a bite out of this problem during 2015 and beyond.

Our business in India aims to bring reliable and cleaner energy solutions to more than 10,000 of the country’s diesel-reliant telecom towers. We believe we can help those partners reduce the diesel consumption of each tower while also increasing uptime, and we’re aiming to replicate this activity across more towers during the year.  Our own fuel cell initiatives are obviously a key part of this.  Such efforts dovetail with the Indian government’s commitment to alternative energy sources.

On the vehicle emissions front, governments in France, Germany, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. are drawing up plans to introduce hydrogen refueling networks to support a new generation of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Meanwhile, Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London has gone so far as to mandate that all new taxis must be zero-emission capable by 2018. In concert with efforts such as these, leading automotive manufacturers such as Toyota, Honda and Hyundai have announced their intentions to make FCEVs available to global markets, and this has already begun, with Toyota’s Mirai FCEV for example, already being available to consumers in Japan and expected to hit the roads in the U.S. and the U.K this summer.

It’s clear that the world is waking up to this important issue, and Intelligent Energy is well positioned to make important contributions to the cause. Our fuel cell technologies for the consumer electronics, distributed power and generation and motive markets, are precisely what government and industry around the world need to reduce emissions to safe levels. Working with organizations in the private and public sectors around the globe, Intelligent Energy can help make our air safe to breathe again. If that isn’t important work, then we don’t know what is.

Getting Lucky at the Telegraph Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show

Last week, we took our personal hydrogen fuel cell charger Upp to the people who make it their goal to live life unplugged: the attendees of The Telegraph Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show. For the uninitiated, the Outdoor Show (as it’s affectionately called) is the UK’s largest exhibition for adventurers of all types. Whether your hobby is travelling, photography, climbing or watersports – or if you’d just like to pick up some new gear—the Outdoor Show is a must–attend. Beyond just practical shopping, it’s a great place to get inspired and check out what’s new in the adventure circuit. So of course, this was the perfect place for us to display Upp.

Go Outdoors 4
We were at London’s ExCel Centre for all four days of the conference, from Thursday, February 12 to Sunday, February 15. Of course, we had our work cut out for us keeping all of our fellow adventurers and conference attendees powered up and unplugged. While many attendees had scaled mountains before, sometimes there’s no more impossible feat than just keeping your phone charged at one of these marathon conferences.  But we decided to debut a special feature at this conference for those who were feeling particularly lucky: our very own Wheel of Fortune! How did it work? Conference attendees could spin to win an Upp, a cartridge or an Upp-powered device like a GoPro! There were no losers here – everyone who spun walked away with at least a lollypop.

As for the conference itself, we definitely got inspired for our next adventure. There were stands for destinations all over the world, climbing centres to test our abilities before hitting some real boulders, and even some downright bizarre displays of skills that we hope to never have to put to the test, like skinning rabbits and eating worms.

Did you attend the show? What there inspired you to want to live life unplugged the most?

Cars, Wearables and Drones, Oh My: CES 2015 Highlights

For its 48th year running, International CES 2015 did not disappoint, drawing 3,600 exhibitors and more than 160,000 people to the desert of Las Vegas for flashy product launches, parties and keynotes. It’s undoubtedly one of the most exhausting weeks of the year leaving us with aching feet and much less hydrated than when we arrived. But it’s worth it after witnessing the year’s most mind-blowing technology firsthand.

Undoubtedly, 2015 will be remembered as the year we build a more connected and mobile world. Cars, drones, wearables, 3D printers and smart-everything captivated our attention and the attention of show-goers judging by the conversations we overheard in the crowded halls of the LVCC and the Sands.

The best keynote of CES 2015, according to The Verge, was delivered by Intel CEO Brian Krzanic who opened with a concept that precisely sums up the show: “We’re going from a two dimensional world, to a three dimensional world. This additional dimension will change how we experience computing.” While he included no mention at all of the much buzzed about “Internet of Things,” there were plenty of theatrical demonstrations of “autonomous drones, intelligent doorways, and sight-assisting jackets.”

Here are some of the highlights that caught our attention:

Cars. Toyota’s fuel cell vehicle, Mercedes-Benz self-driving prototype, Audi’s self-driving A7. If we didn’t know better we’d say we were at a car show. In fact, CES is now being called the most important car show of the year. With a record 10 automakers at this year’s CES, Krzanic’s statement rings true – the way we experience computing is changing and that includes in our vehicles. One announcement we’re particularly excited about: Toyota will grant access to its intellectual property, a move that we hope will help to build the fuel cell infrastructure for a growing hydrogen economy in 2015.

Wearables. We saw smartwatches in all shapes, sizes, colors and styles. It’s clear that designing accessories that blend in to look and feel like regular jewelry is top of mind for companies. CNET noted “Misfit’s Swarovski Shine solar-powered fitness jewelry looks like Swarovski jewelry. A crystal-studded necklace, a crystal pendant. You’d never know someone was wearing a smart device just from looking at it.” Not a wearable per say but we also got a sweat on testing Tao, a tiny gym in your pocket, which looks like a computer mouse but allows you to work out anywhere using body weight. Importantly, dogs made a major showing at CES this year – we saw a smart collar for your pup called Tagg that tracks location, activity and body temperature of your pet. And topping it off, a smart belt that automatically compensates for your giant dinner.

Drones. Drones aren’t new to CES but this year they seemed to be more prevalent and not surprisingly, more intelligent. The main uses for drones are military and photography controlled by remote but last week several autonomous drones made an appearance including the Airdog, Hexo+, Trace and Ghost. With a “follow me” feature, “the drone locks onto you and flies anywhere you go.” DJI’s new drone, the Inspire 1, was one of the most popular products thanks to its stabilizing 4K camera, but possibly topping all drone showings was the choreographed drone dance performed by Parrot.

Julian Hughes, Intelligent Energy’s Corporate Business Development Director, demonstrates Upp™, the company’s portable hydrogen fuel cell power solution for USB-compatible devices.

Julian Hughes, Intelligent Energy’s Corporate Business Development Director, demonstrates Upp™, the company’s portable hydrogen fuel cell power solution for USB-compatible devices.

Rounding out a great week, we were thrilled to be named a CES Innovation Award Honoree for our latest fuel cell innovation named, Upp, the portable power solution driven by a hydrogen fuel cell to power up USB-compatible devices. Between Toyota’s fuel cell Mirai and the Mercedes-Benz F015 Luxury in Motion, which is powered by a fuel cell and a battery, fuel cells were a hot topic at CES 2015. As we enter the New Year, we’re excited to play a role in the hydrogen economy and bring new forms of energy mainstream to enable today’s always-on connected consumer and world!

Julian Hughes picks up the 2015 CES Innovation Award.

Julian Hughes picks up the 2015 CES Innovation Award.

TechCrunch Disrupt London Gets to #PowerUpp with Intelligent Energy

While we had a blast helping TechCrunch Disrupt SF live life unplugged a few weeks ago, we wanted to bring some of that great buzz closer to home. Fortunately, we got the chance to do just that this week at TechCrunch Disrupt in London. There are no shortage of bright minds and great ideas on our side of the pond, and so it was great to show off Upp amongst more local peers.

How did we fare on our home turf?  Better than ever! Once again, it turns out there’s nothing like wandering around a conference all day and draining your phone battery by noon to make you appreciate when someone hands you a portable hydrogen fuel cell. By 11 am both days, we had desperate attendees swarming the booth, many of them notified of our presence by the groundswell of enthusiasm for Upp on social media.

Tweet 1The TechCrunch attendees were not only incredibly appreciative of the convenience of getting to borrow a portable charger, but they were also completely wowed by the technology itself. Given the technical background of many of the attendees, they were fascinated by the sophisticated fuel cell technology compressed into Upp, and truly amazed that this kind of product will soon be available for them to purchase and use on a daily basis. The crew from ITProPortal even stopped by, and were so impressed by our demo that they featured Upp as one of the most exciting finds at the conference in their roundup of the action.

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Favourite moment? When a conference goer arrived at our stand with another battery pack, which he’d unfortunately forgotten to charge before heading out to TechCrunch, thus rendering it useless. It really brought home the benefits of Upp versus other portable chargers – why live your life attached to wall charging but just with a longer tether when you could abandon the socket altogether and live life unplugged? Upp saved the day, and we charged not just his depleted phone, but his battery as well. Needless to say, we can now count him as one of our successful converts.

It was another great event, and the buzz about Upp is only continuing to grow. Luckily, all of our devotees won’t have much longer to wait!

London conference highlights hydrogen’s potential to investor audience

On 1 October, hydrogen specialists from some of the world’s biggest industrial companies assembled in London to address an audience of investors and City analysts on the potential of hydrogen to meet our energy requirements and transform how we consume energy.

The half-day conference – ‘Hydrogen: the new energy landscape’ – was organised by financial services firm Canaccord Genuity, and featured speakers from French industrial gases group Air Liquide, Japanese carmaker Honda, and German industrial giant Siemens.

Together they gave a fascinating insight into the potential of hydrogen as a source of energy, in sectors such as automotive, and as a vital ingredient to turn renewable energy into stored power through the application of electrolysis.

Attendees at the event were left in no doubt about the investment potential in the sector, with Canaccord technology analyst Bob Liao highlighting the pace of change in the hydrogen space and the capacity of market participants to roll out ‘disruptive’ hydrogen technology at an industrial scale.

Among the first to take the podium was Dr Henri Winand: the chief executive of Intelligent Energy told a packed room how the need for greater efficiency in power generation and transmission, coupled with the rise in personal mobile devices, would see a return from Alternative Current (AC), or grid-generated, power to more localised Direct Current (DC)-generated power consumption – benefiting hydrogen-fuelled distributed power generation.

Deputy Mayor of London Kit Malthouse, an enthusiastic advocate of hydrogen, illustrated Londoners’ lukewarm interest in electric cars with a startling fact:  68 percent of charging points in the capital were not used at all between April and June 2014. This he attributed to the significant time taken to recharge an electric car. By comparison, the fact that there was no ‘behavioural change’ required to refuel a hydrogen electric vehicle – because of the speed of refuelling – meant they had the potential to be far more popular.

On the same day that Toyota announced at the Paris Motor Show that its hydrogen-powered vehicle would go on sale next summer in Germany and the UK, Honda’s Thomas Brachmann told the conference that the company would also start selling hydrogen cars next year in Europe, and was working on a second-generation vehicle for 2019. Both Brachmann and Pierre Etienne Franc of Air Liquide spoke about the benefits of the European-funded HyFIVE project which will deploy hydrogen vehicles across Europe and thus help nurture clusters of refuelling stations.

Other speakers included Duncan Macleod, a consultant and former Shell executive, who explained how hydrogen was already a part of the world of Big Oil and had formed part of the oil and gas business for decades. While Gaelle Hotellier, head of hydrogen solutions at Siemens, spoke about how the German company was marketing its own PEM electrolysis system to industrial customers as it moves towards commercialisation of its hydrogen technologies.

The hydrogen landscape is certainly moving from theory to reality!

London Tourists and Shoppers Seize the Chance to ‘Live Life Unplugged’

With the launch of Upp growing ever closer, we thought that we’d give the British public a taste of life free from the grid. For one week, beginning 22nd September we set up a sneak preview booth in London’s Covent Garden that gave many people their first chance to get ‘hands-on’ with Upp – hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Shoppers and tourists were able to give their smart devices a quick top-up (a godsend in one of the Capital’s biggest tourist hotspots!) or even borrow an Upp while they took in the shopping and sights that London has to offer – simply swipe their card and take the opportunity to live life unplugged for a day. Visitors to the booth were also invited to take an Instagram picture of themselves at the stand, tagged with the hashtag #powerupp which would be insta-printed at the stand.

Alongside our many activities for Upp, we also had the hydrogen-powered fuel cell London Taxi on display. For many people, hydrogen power is something they usually associate with cars and we felt this was a great way to show the versatility of hydrogen fuel cells. What’s more, it perfectly illustrated how Intelligent Energy has miniaturised a technology synonymous with powering vehicles into a handheld consumer product that can be used to power your phone, tablet or camera.

The taxi also served as a handy booth where people could come and share how they feel when their phone battery dies; it’s fair to say that the frustration felt is universal! In fact, here are a few of the responses we received:

  • “Amazing getting the idea from a taxi, Great for the environment, everyone should have one.”
  • “Great that its clean energy, Lots of potential, it can charge more than one variant of devices.”
  • “Very robust, the reversible case is great, the rate of charge is phenomenal.”
  • “Great that its clean energy, Lots of potential, it can charge more than one variant of  devices.”

The response received over the week was genuinely encouraging and only served to reinforce our belief that the world is ready for fuel cell technology – it won’t be long now before it’s in their hands.

Toyota Bringing Hydrogen FCEVs to UK in Summer 2015

The Paris Motor Show began this week with news of Toyota’s intention to bring its Fuel Cell Sedan to Britain, Germany, Denmark and US in summer 2015. This announcement from the world’s largest vehicle manufacturer demonstrates that the imminent roll-out of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) to the consumer is now a reality and will give a welcome boost to efforts elsewhere to introduce these clean but practical electric vehicles.

The UK’s commitment to low emission vehicles is something we experienced first-hand at CENEX Low Carbon Vehicle 2014 last month and has been cited as a major factor as to why Toyota has chosen the UK as one of its ‘test bed’ markets. Already we’re seeing the UK invest in infrastructure to support FCEVs in the shape of the HyFive Project which is bringing refuelling stations to the Capital, also slated for arrival next year.

In Toyota’s own words hydrogen has great potential as an alternative fuel. It can be produced from a wide variety of primary energy sources, including solar and wind power; it is easy to store and transport; and when compressed, it has a higher energy density than batteries.” Moreover, refuelling times, performance and range for FCEVs are all comparable to that of traditional combustion engine vehicles

A landmark announcement from Toyota, but expect to see more from others as the momentum builds towards the widespread roll out FCEVs and the fuelling infrastructure to support them.

Intelligent Energy Powers TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco with Upp Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Where can you go to find all of Silicon Valley’s early adopters, reigning royalty and foremost tech journalists under one roof? TechCrunch Disrupt would be a good place to start. On September 8-10, Intelligent Energy joined the global tech vanguard at Pier 48 in San Francisco. Disrupt brings together a legion of emerging startups, larger companies and industry thought leaders for three days of pitching, networking and brainstorming rounded off by an all-star line-up of speakers. Highlights from this year’s agenda included Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Airbnb founder Brian Chesky and highly regarded entrepreneur Peter Thiel.

It’s in this setting that Intelligent Energy chose to showcase Upp™ to the US market. Upp incorporates Intelligent Energy’s innovative fuel cell technology into a personal, portable energy source that charges compatible handheld devices via a USB cord. Upp frees users from the stress of constantly having to seek out a wall socket for charging, granting smart phone users the ability to live completely independently of the energy grid. At Disrupt, we were not only showcasing Upp’s breakthrough technology, but renting out Upp devices to conference goers to better the convenience which they provide to users.

Given the scarcity of wall sockets at the TechCrunch Disrupt venue – a converted Pier warehouse—the rental Upp devices were incredibly well received by users. Both stations received a steady flow of visitors requesting demos and explanations of Upp’s hydrogen cell technology, and everyone was extremely effusive in praise. In fact, most immediately requested to try out Upp, and by midday each day when phone batteries started to lag, Upp devices could be spotted in hands of attendees around the conference.  Upp renters also took to social media to express their praise, capitalizing on the great word of mouth attention Intelligent Energy was receiving on the floor itself.

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By the end of the first day alone, people coming up to the stations mentioned seeing them all over the place. Particularly helpful were the Upp stands’ proximity to the Johnnie Walker lounge and bar area; the Johnnie Walker organizers ran out of battery early on the first day, and spent the rest of the conference using Upp at the bar and recommending all patrons do the same.  It was a very good pairing!

We will also be showcasing Upp at TechCrunch Disrupt in London so hope to see you there!

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Upp at TechCrunch Disrupt

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