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Bend Company Launched Technology to Develop Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Element 1 co-founders, Robert Schluter and Dave Edlund have a lot of knowledge about hydrogen gas, and they’re about to share it with the rest of the world.

The two are ready to market their hydrogen fuel cell technology, which can power ships, trains, and stationary applications such as wireless networks, data centers, and hospitals that need a constant supply of power, after more than a decade of development. The system uses methanol to produce hydrogen in a method that eliminates the need for huge tanks to store the renewable energy supply.

Schluter said, “It’s pretty cool.” “A hydrogen-fueled fuel cell generates electricity. It’s low-cost and generates just energy, so it’s really clean.”

It’s also less expensive because fuel cell generator technology will deliver a kilowatt of hydrogen for $3 to $4, compared to $16 for a kilowatt of hydrogen.

Element 1 was established in 2010 and has grown to employ about 18 people at its Bend headquarters on Plateau Drive, where it develops and sells advanced hydrogen generation technologies while also tapping into the young talent at Oregon State University-Cascades. It’s the kind of business that helps the Central Oregon economy diversify, according to Roger Lee, CEO of Economic Development for Central Oregon.

“That’s what Element 1 is promising,” Lee said. “It’s the talent,” says the narrator. It’s convenient for us to suggest, “Look at this company”, it’s a perfect fit for our economic development.”

The company signed a letter of intent in March with Ardmore Shipping Corp. and Maritime Partners LLC to bring the company’s methanol-to-hydrogen technology to the marine market.

Using flame, pressure, and catalysts, the company’s hydrogen purification process transforms methanol and water liquid feedstock, which are high in hydrogen molecules, into pure fuel-cell quality hydrogen.

Josh Tibbits, an Element 1 engineer, entered the organization seven years ago as a fresh-faced 34-year-old college graduate from the OSU-Cascades Energy Systems Engineering program, which the college developed to meet a niche need.

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