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Price-Leading Fuel Cell Technology with Zero CO2 Emissions

Dave Jackson Dave Jackson, Stockhouse
1 Comment| September 27, 2021

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A fuel cell is a clean electrical power conversion/generation system, akin to a small power station that provides electricity and an equivalent amount of heat for various purposes.

Alkaline Fuel Cell Power Corp. (NEO.PWWR, Forum) is at the forefront of this technology and in this exclusive video Q&A podcast, Stockhouse Media’s Dave Jackson was happy to be joined by Chairman of the Advisory Board Gerard Sauer to tell us more about this fascinating technology company.


(Click image to enlarge)

TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

SH: To start off with, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the history of the company?

GS: Okay. I first became interested in energy conversion through my studies in automotive engineering all those days ago, and I decided to concentrate on improving engine efficiencies that led to building engines for motorsport and motor racing. I moved to England in the early seventies and built and designed racing engines here in this country. During the course of that period, we won many championships and were successful but during1980, early eighties - middle eighties, I was becoming aware, I was becoming a father, had children. I was becoming much more aware of the environmental impact vehicles in particular and of course home heating and air conditioning. I decided to look into that more and I began to study alternative ways of energy conversion and decided to move into the direction of electrical machines.

I then came into contact via my own consulting agency, how fuel cells operated, and after about three years of doing that, I realized that there was a clear opportunity in the field of alkaline fuel cells. Now, already Ballard fuel cell company did exist. There were solid oxide fuel cells. There were PEM fuel cells and then there were the more mature alkaline fuel cells. I opted for alkaline fuel cells in those days because they have the highest internal efficiency of all the family of fuel cells and the second thing that really attracted me to them was that they were much lower costs because the so-called balance of the plant is much lower. You do not need that many components to make an alkaline fuel cell function. So that led to a series of researchers providing integration designs for other companies taking a fuel cell and putting that in vehicles.

So, over several decades leading up to our company, we have created 35 different applications including taxis, boats, ferries, static generating systems, all sorts of you could think of even educational units for universities and schools. All as part of the endeavor to try and make a commercial product. As we all know during those times, the hydrogen economy was really fledgling, and it didn't really build up into a strong drive. Then it went quiet for about maybe six or seven years and then the latter part of the 2000s, it started to grow again and that was another push if you like in the direction of the hydrogen economy that did die down a bit because of the economic crisis that we had and that took another two or three years to sort of wither into the system.

Then four years ago, I and my current colleagues noticed that there was a much, much stronger push. For a start, the European Union began to become very excited by hydrogen as an opportunity to move on and the public was becoming much more aware. There was the Greta Thunberg influence where people began to see that their children were really worried about the future and the prevalence of CO2 in our atmosphere was becoming a problem. So, these two drivers then gave us the opportunity to look once again at our own internals and say can we do this? We strongly believe that the section where our technology is really at its strongest, if you like from a commercial point of view, is the home heating and home energy fields, zero-emissions, no CO2, no by-products, or other contaminants go into the atmosphere from using the hydrogen in the fuel cell, you create energy for your life.

You have the thermal energy that we generate next to it, which we can put into the home heating system. So that is how we have arrived today. As you know, a couple of months ago, we were fortunate enough to list the company on the NEO stock exchange and we really looked at NEO because they are a very tech-centric exchange. I mean we really liked the way they are promoting in a very open and honest way, the products. They really liked how we were looking at it. So that is where we are today.

SH: Can you update our investor audience and your shareholders on any new company developments?

GS: Yes. One of the things that we've been working hard on and is the focus of the company is from the perspective of the customer because we realized very early on that the only way, we're going to be successful is if we're going to sell a product to the customer, they have got to be able to afford it. We have to have a price that is equivalent or maybe a little bit more expensive than let's say the conventional power supply system as we use them here in Europe, mainly. So that was our starting point. If we now work back to today, it is important that we are able to put these things into the beta test program. So, our objective now and one of the new developments is to find two partners, commercial partners that will allow us to run beta test programs.

These beta test programs will typically be, let's say between 500 to 1000 units where we set up a collaboration with an industry player that is in that field already and using our product now as the new zero-emissions opportunity for them and their clients. So that is one of the focal points now. New developments to make that possible, we cannot just go to anybody and tell them how good we are. We have to have a separate organization, independent of us verifying and corroborating the claims that we are making because we are saying to people that what they wish to hear, that our product is significantly cheaper or why is it cheaper? If it is cheap, does it perform as it should? We have made a collaboration with Gaskatel GmbH and in that vein have set up a regime with them to double-check if you like all the developments that we have got and that's been very successful so far.

SH: How does your alkaline fuel cell differ from that, say, the aforementioned Ballard hydrogen fuel cell?

GS: Okay. The alkaline fuel cell is a fuel cell that uses a liquid electrolyte and that electrolyte is much more efficient but the key thing where we differ from Ballard is that we can operate our alkaline fuel cell without the need for precious metals and that is a key point now with the scarcity of resources as we currently noted and the ability to make electrical energy from components and constituents that are not precious and are low priced, allows us to develop a system because the balance of plant is also cheaper and simpler means that we can reach a price point that is equivalent to the average conventional power supply costs and for the investors, that's important because that makes us competitive.

If I look at, for example, Ballard’s system, it’s an excellent system. We know what we do. We do not criticize that at all, but it is much more at home inside a car or a large truck, perhaps and it needs balance of plants, which includes a dryer and a humidifier, and other components to make it function. It's a higher power density than we have but, in the home, you are not worried about power density. You're worried about costs. You're worried about efficiency, and you want to use thermal energy. So, we are in that field, they are in the other. So that is how we differ from each other.

SH: You just launched testing of Next-Generation Power Units with Gaskatel, who just mentioned, which is one of the world’s leading authorities on electrode R&D. Can you expand on this initiative for our investor audience?

GS: Yes. one of the most important things is looking into the future. We always want to be a step ahead of the competition and we guarantee that almost by working together with them and we will shortly announce further collaborations with the specialist universities so that we will be working on generation four and even five before we've actually finished with three and that becomes the product that goes into the marketplace. We're following very much the model that the lovely Mr. Elon Musk has shown us. If you want to stay ahead of the competition, you've got to start today, not next year and so that is really how we are creating if you like the product for the future today.

SH: Zero-Emissions Day is on Tuesday, September 21st. This may be news to many investors. Can you unpack the benefits of it and what it means to the company?

GS: Well for us, again, that's a very important day because it crystallizes the issue around the whole technology that we are trying to convince customers is the next best step. We need to have a reduction in CO2 output of enormous proportions over the next 20, 30 years, it's perfectly doable but it will only happen with a real political will that is backed up by money and that happens from the pressure that the politicians feel. So, a day like that, where we all say, okay, we're going to as much as we possibly can not use CO2 emitting devices, cars, heating, etc and be more sparing with our resources and that will make the message grow. It will make the politicians sit up and take notice and will begin to support the infrastructure that we need to have in order to make inroads into our emissions. So, for us, it's a really big key day to see that the public supports us. Also, it underpins our efforts to get support from the European Union because they know that we are a pathway and by showing them that there is political pressure behind it, we validate our existence with them much more.

SH: The Company looks set for strong growth in 2021. How are you placed to expand operations to meet this demand?

GS: Well, that was the key question at the very beginning because it's all very well and making one or even a couple of hundred of these systems but when you're talking about a thousand or tens of thousands as they will have to be in the end, the only way that we can see in which to make that work is to partner up with a current large scale supplier. That could either mean that the company would make a trade sale or that we make an agreement to be a key supplier. So, you know AFCP inside, rather like Intel inside. So, we provide the core, they provide the balance of plants. That means that we can have an almost horizontal expansion by licensing manufacturers to produce from our core product, the system that the customer requires.

SH: For company shareholders and potential investors, what kind of future development and progress can we expect with your Alkaline Fuel Cell Power units?

GS: Well, the first and probably the most exciting one at the moment that we're really focused on is to make sure that we're going to hit that price point and at the same time have a highly efficient unit. That is really the key to our current objective, and we're focused on that, and we don't want to bend away from that and be distracted from that. It's a little bit complicated from the outside looking in as an investor because you said yourself well, I have invested this money. Well, what's happening, what's happening. Of course, we understand that, but the focus of the company is to make sure that we can deliver on what we have promised. That is our only objective right now and so for the future, what comes next is Generation 3.0 which is the next generation. We are already putting in place the mechanisms to make that happen in real life and without independent companies corroborating that we can then literally take the next step and then the customers and our investors can see the progress that we're making.

SH: What separates Alkaline Fuel Cell Power from the competition and makes your business model unique?

GS: Well to answer the first part of the question we have without a shadow of a doubt, the best team collected, we have expertise in this field. There really are very, very few other companies that we are aware of that have that level of expertise. Mr. Jef Spaepen and his father Staf Spaepen were the initiators via the nuclear research institute in Belgium. They grew this into the fuel cell endeavor so a long and there is a strong successful history in that. So while we're looking around and where are the other players in the alkaline fields? We are number one, there is no doubt about that. That differs us. Then on the commercial side because our product is squarely aimed at the customer and the customer's needs. Many of the competition that we know of are still at a, if you like, a more experimental level, there's still a lot of experimentation going on because we, between all the team members inside the company, have produced 35 real systems, actual systems that have placed in real positions. I mean, I built my first fuel cell taxi in 1999, and people weren't even thinking about fuel cell vehicles pretty much of them. And so that combined experience gives us a lead on anybody around us.

SH: I have to mention your stock has been on a bit of a roller coaster ride since you went public in mid-July. What can you tell our investor audience regarding the current valuation of your stock and why you think it’s a good buy right now?

GS: Okay, well the valuation is not where we would like it to be clear and we want it to be higher, but I would point out that now we are an enormously attractive buy because at the current share price of around $45 cents or 32 European, it's a great opportunity to get in at the bottom end. We are currently working hard on three different fronts with announcements that are coming in the pipeline that are going to be significant announcements in the field that will boost the investor confidence and make sure that they understand how serious we are about this and the value of the proposition. So, getting at the early day days is a good buy.

SH: What’s the long-term strategy for the company moving through 2021 and beyond, and what should retail, and institutional investors be looking out for?

GS: Well, the first step is, as I said, the first quarter 2022, when we have the first system up and running and can demonstrate them but then very quickly afterwards, we have the two V3.0 systems, which will be placed in actual commercial environments to prove their worth. So that would be a big step up because then people can see our equipment, they can touch it, they can see the performance of it and can see how efficient it is. It also then will verify and corroborate the claims that we have been making about its price point in the marketplace. We will by then almost certainly have the ability to announce whom our partners are going to be, placing much larger numbers in a short space of time into the marketplace. So that is really something to look forward to.

SH: You touched on them briefly, but can you tell our audience a little bit about your corporate management and board teams, along with the experience and innovative ideas they bring to the power cell space?

GS: Okay, let's start from the top end. Our CEO, Jef Spaepen is without a shadow of a doubt, any alkaline fuel cell field, a topmost authority and has an enormous bank of knowledge and the ability to see the bigger picture in terms of how are we going to commercially exploit this as much as being the brains behind several of the new and very clever innovations, for example, a load-following one of the big issues with all fuel cells, not just ours but with the whole family of fuel cells is if you don't need as much power as the fuel cell is capable of giving then technically you might under certain circumstances compromise the life and the life cycle of the machine. His solution to this, which we are applying patents for tomorrow but going through that process we have seven unique patents within our system.

That solution is a really great way of in a very simple way, stepping around this issue and making the unit actually more efficient than it was even previous to that. So he's a big player in that field and a real asset to us, the CEO of AFCP Corp. as you know yourself, but it's worth just reiterating the Alkaline Fuel Cell Power Corporation is a Canadian company based in Vancouver, but it has a 100% daughter organization in Westerlo in Belgium, and it has a laboratory and research lab in Vlasim in the Czech Republic where there is another technical team that concentrates specifically on catalysts. So, the, Westerlo factory has Mr. Jo Verstappen, COO of AFCP Corp and CEO of FCP N,V.

So, Jo is an absolute authority on building factories, building teams that in a compressed space of time can make things happen in real life. We were fortunate enough that we were able to attract Stephen Laux, who is a big player in the hydrogen field. He's one of the real authorities on the technical side knows everything there is to know about a whole band of hydrogen because as you know, there's green hydrogen, there's blue hydrogen and grey hydrogen, they're all generated in different ways and have a different means of producing energy and consuming energy. So, to have somebody like that as our business development director, who knows the places to go to find the partners that we need for our expansion is a great asset.

Then on top of that, we've got Mr. Luc Pauwels, who is one of the greatest purchasers and buyers you can lay your hands on. We're very fortunate to have him on the team. We have Sven van Hout, our financial controller who worked for General Motors. These are heavyweight people who know what it is like to run a factory who knows what it takes to go from a small company to a much, much bigger one in a short space of time and do that efficiently. In Vlasim in the Czech Republic, we have three technicians specifically country check, who is an authority on capital development and anode development catalyst in particular. Why are they so important is because we are going to have nonprecious metal catalysts and to make sure that we have the right catalysts and that we have development progress that goes with our V4.0 V5.0 systems. We have to have that going on now, as I mentioned before. So, these are key people to the whole organization.

SH: And finally, Gerard, if there’s anything I’ve overlooked please feel free to elaborate.

GS: Okay. Well, one thing that is important to mention, I think is that in the not-too-distant future we will be able to make a number of announcements that the investor community that will really chime with the investor community because we're working in the background on increasing our profile as a company. So, we're not just looking narrowly at the alkaline space of the fuel cell side of things but we're also looking beyond that, and I think there'll be some exciting announcements for that.

For regular updates, visit www.fuelcellpower.com.


FULL DISCLOSURE: This is a paid article produced by Stockhouse Publishing.


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