Minnesota could become a major player in the rapidly emerging fuel cell industry.
The sector is so young that the state does not yet collect employment or sales statistics on it. However, at least 10 Minnesota companies are now making products for fuel cells, says Linda Limback, research coordinator at the State Energy Office.
These businesses are investing significant dollars in research and development of fuel cell technology, and many are partnering with federal agencies, she says.
Minneapolis-based Cummins Power Generation, for example, has been awarded a $75 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop an affordable, 10-kilowatt modular solid oxide fuel cell. Another Minneapolis manufacturer, Donaldson Company, has worked with the Los Alamos National Laboratory to develop filtration systems that prolong fuel cell life.
Although no Minnesota companies manufacture complete fuel cells, local companies do produce a wide range of fuel cell parts, from sensors to membranes to fuel purification systems. Among the state leaders:
3M, St. Paul, a leading manufacturer of proton exchange membranes for fuel cells.
Atmosphere Recovery, Inc., Plymouth, makes sensors and controls for monitoring the purity of hydrogen gas used to power fuel cells.
Cummins Power Generation, Minneapolis, designs and manufactures power generation equipment.
Donaldson Company, Minneapolis, makes filtration systems for fuel cells.
Entegris, Chaska, supplies materials for the microelectronics and fuel cell industries. In August, Entegris installed Minnesota’s first multi-kilowatt, stationary fuel cell at its Chaska plant.
ICM Plastics, Rogers, makes bipolar plates for proton exchange membrane fuel cells.
Phillips & Temro Industries, Eden Prairie, makes cold-weather engine components, products for preheating fuel cells, and fuel cell load banks.
Tescom, Inc., Elk River, makes pressure regulators, valves and other controls used in fuel cells. TSI, Shoreview, makes air and gas flow measuring sensors and controls used in fuel cells.
Source: Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance