Japanese companies NTT, Toho Gas and Sumitomo Precision Products have achieved a major leap forward in the production of efficient fuel cells. Their new and jointly developed fuel cell system [JP] boasts record-high efficiency (in the field of commercial applications, at least).
The system uses city gas as the source of hydrogen and houses a few dozens of flat fuel cells in a device so that no heat can escape. By 2012 at the latest, the system is planned to be sold to restaurants and convenience stores wanting to lower heating, cooling and lighting costs.
The system features a power output of 30kw and an energy efficiency of up to 59%. According to the companies involved in the development, buyers can expect the system to run for several thousand hours. This is how the current prototype performs, but the final version is supposed to boast an operating time of several tens of thousands of hours.