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Future is here now with new hydrogen fuel cell made in Florida

2:48 PM, Jul 9, 2013   |    comments
Dean Minardi of Bing Energy displays a hydrogen fuel cell that he believes will change the way the world produces energy.
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Gov. Rick Scott shows off a glimpse of the future at a Tallahassee-based technology company that produces clean energy from hydrogen.

The governor visited Bing Energy Tuesday to sign a bill creating a new state fund that will raise private funds to help startup companies.

Bing Energy is an example of a company that used public funding to help produce its first commercial product - a clean energy fuel cell.

In the past two years, Bing has been able to increase the size of its fuel cells from the size of your thumb to a flat panel measuring 7-by-5 inches.

The fuel cells power a 3-kilowatt generator that will be installed in cell phone towers across China.

Bing Energy CFO Dean Minardi says each generator contains 40 fuel cells worth $3,200.

"To put this opportunity into perspective, there are 1.3 million cell towers in China alone and they all are converting to this technology."

Gov. Scott says the Florida Technology Seed Capital Fund will help turn good ideas into businesses.

"The fund will further help companies like Bing Energy and the other companies represented here today to expand their business plans and ultimately create more jobs and opportunities for Florida families."

Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, sponsored the bill in the Legislature last spring.

Workman says too often innovative ideas die before they can go to the market because of a lack of funding. He believes the new investment fund will help more start-up companies survive.

"Hopefully by allowing the state to partner, become an equity partner in these small businesses, we will see tremendous growth and we'll be able to keep these amazing ideas here in Florida," Workman said.

The technology in Bing Energy's fuel cells was developed at Florida State University.

It uses something called Buckypaper, which is made of tube-shaped carbon molecules 50,000 times thinner than a human hair, but stronger than steel and able to conduct electricity very effectively.

Bing Energy has developed proprietary technology called a membrane electrode assembly for its hydrogen fuel cells. The cell tower generator is the first commercial application of the technology.

The company is partnering on the generators with PowerCell of Sweden, a spinoff company of Volvo.

Bing Energy is also working with auto manufacturers to develop cars that operate on hydrogen fuel cells. Minardi says the first vehicles will hit the market in 2015.

Dave Heller

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