AFC Energy is based in Surrey in the UK, near London, and is publically traded on the London Stock Exchange under the symbol AFC. It was established in 2006 to purchase technology developed by Eneco, and energy producer in the Netherlands, and has since raised capital and proceeded with development of the technology it purchased from Eneco.
AFC hopes to employ alkaline fuel cell technology in commercial applications. The company has added extensive development to existing technology, but the core technology has been known for over 150 years. Similar systems were used by NASA on the Apollo and Space Shuttle missions. At the time, however, the technology was not commercially viable due to cost.
Alkaline fuel cell technology has benefits, but challenges remain. Benefits include that it produces no harmful atmospheric emissions and has an energy conversion efficiency of 70 percent. The primary challenge to the technology is the requirement for input of pure hydrogen into the fuel cell. Producing and transporting pure hydrogen is fraught with difficulties.
AFC intends to surmount the difficulties of producing and transporting hydrogen by utilizing hydrogen that is produced as a waste product from other industrial activities and generating power on the site where the hydrogen is produced. It has developed partnerships with several firms whose facilities generate hydrogen waste products, and a reactor is currently under construction in Australia in partnership with Linc Energy. Linc Energy produces excess hydrogen from the production of coal bed methane.
The firm recently completed and has produced energy from a commercial reactor in the UK. The reactor is primarily for testing AFC’s ongoing technological advances. Eventually, the firm expects develop the technology to the point that it can produce power wherever it may be needed.
ITM Power is dedicated to producing commercially viable hydrogen power sources. The technology for these sources already exists; it simply requires a company with the capital and know-how to bring it to the world. By using water electrolysis, a technique invented over two centuries ago, to separate hydrogen from oxygen, energy can be stored in fuel cells and released.
Hydrogen fuel cells use the same technology that powered space ships, just on a smaller scale. Factories and even personal vehicles may one day use ITM Power’s technology. Just like computers decreased in size from mainframes to personal computers, ITM Power is facilitating the process of decreasing hydrogen engines in size.
As of the end of 2010, many industries and companies around the UK have agreed to allow ITM Power to conduct on-site hydrogen power trials. Some high-profile examples include public services provider Amey, glass repair company AutoGlass, motor vehicle services provider RAC and maintenance services provider Enterprise. These companies share with ITM Power a dedication to promoting the welfare of the environment as well as a desire to stop using so many fossil fuels. The waste products of gasoline pollute the environment, while the waste products of electrolysis and hydrogen fueling are simply water and oxygen.
In the Alternative Investment Markets (AIM), ITM Power has been buffeted by the winds of the global recession as much as any other company. It reached its low in early 2009, and slowly increased in value until early 2011, when it fell again. The markets are waiting to see the outcome of ITM Power’s hydrogen trials begun in late 2010. If these trials lead to solid results, the price of ITM on AIM is likely to shoot back up. In its early days, the company was quite volatile, and in the current period, the stock is also likely to show a lot of volatility.
Ilika Plc plays a supplemental role in the world of green industry. Founded in 2006, the company has specialized in producing materials used in green manufacturing cheaply and quickly. Its stated goals are to improve efficiency and speed up innovation by testing materials more quickly and enabling rapid commercialisation of environmentally friendly products and services.
As a relative newcomer to AIM, its stock has had mixed receptions, with a high in late 2010 of 60p almost immediately followed by a low of 45p or so in early 2011. The market isn’t quite sure of its role in the new renewable energy economy, and investors are wary of anything whose position isn’t quite sure in the climate following the global recession . This may not be a long-lasting wariness, as Ilika PLC has made a number of innovative strides forward through partnerships with various green energy and other cleantech companies around the world.
As recently as June 2011, Ilika Plc has announced a hydrogen storage collaboration project with Sigma Aldrich Materials Science. The advances made through the collaboration between Ilika’s process orientation and Sigma Aldrich’s research background may lead to greater public adoption of clean hydrogen energy. In 2010 the company won numerous grants for its research into a variety of topics such as thermoelectric screening technology, lithium-ion batteries, bio-functional polymers and more.
Ilika is currently sitting around its all-time low, but indicators suggest that it is a clear short-term growth stock. Its success largely depends on its innovation, and with the recent hydrogen storage project coming so closely on the heels of the successes of 2010, it would appear that Ilika has a whole lot more technological development to offer the world. Ilika Plc is definitely a company for investors to watch in the news. It has, in its short time on the markets, proven to be quite volatile.