Fuel-cell maker Bloom Energy now wants to make hydrogen too

California-based Bloom Energy plans to start selling electrolyzers, machines that generate hydrogen from water, next year.The electrolyzers could be s
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Until now, Bloom’s fuel cells, which generate power through an electrochemical reaction, have run on natural gas or biogas. (Representational photo) (REUTERS)
Until now, Bloom’s fuel cells, which generate power through an electrochemical reaction, have run on natural gas or biogas. (Representational photo)

A year after Bloom Energy Corp. announced that its power-generating fuel cells could run on hydrogen, the company is preparing to help produce the fuel itself.

San Jose, California-based Bloom plans to start selling electrolyzers, machines that generate hydrogen from water, next year. When powered by electricity from solar or wind facilities, the devices can create the fuel without greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, most hydrogen is produced from natural gas.

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Rival fuel cell maker Plug Power Inc. placed a similar bet earlier this year, announcing it would buy electrolyzer company Giner ELX, along with a hydrogen producer, United Hydrogen Group Inc.

Also Read : Government issues draft for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, evaluates feasibility

Bloom’s electrolyzers, in contrast, have been developed in-house, Chief Executive Officer KR Sridhar said in an interview. “We bring something unique to the table in that we can both generate the hydrogen and use the hydrogen and can do both more efficiently than any other technology," he said.

Bloom shares jumped as much as 33% Wednesday to hit $17.40, their highest intraday level since 2018. Plug’s shares have climbed more than 55% since the company announced its electrolyzer purchase last month.

Also Read : Hyundai ships world's first fuel cell heavy-duty trucks for commercial use

Bloom plans to offer the products first in South Korea, which last year adopted a Hydrogen Economy Roadmap that calls for scaling up the use of fuel cells to run cars as well as generate electricity. The electrolyzers could be sold on their own or offered in conjunction with Bloom fuel cells configured to run on hydrogen, the first of which will be installed next year in Korea under an agreement with SK Engineering and Construction Co. Until now, Bloom’s fuel cells, which generate power through an electrochemical reaction, have run on natural gas or biogas.

“We see them as two products that can operate independently as well as together," Sridhar said.

Bloom plans to announce its second-quarter financial results on July 28.

First Published Date: 16 Jul 2020, 10:47 AM IST
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