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Cellennium Thailand, a small research and development company, has successfully developed and commercialised a sugar fuel cell that uses carbohydrates from sugar or tapioca to generate electricity.
The vanadium-based fuel cell works by electrochemically converting the chemical energy bound in carbohydrates into electricity.
Cellennium chairman Krisada Kampanatsanyakorn said the fuel cell, which has already been patented in Sweden, was able to store electricity for up to 15 to 20 years, or up to five times the life cycle of normal batteries.
The system is able to serve as microcells, generating and storing electricity for the national power grid during off-peak periods and then selling it back into the system during periods of high consumer demand.
Cellennium has also developed wind and solar power generation systems to store power using a prototype one-megawatt vanadium fuel cell system.
Mr Krisada said the company had already begun selling electricity using the system to the Metropolitan Electricity Authority.
Average costs to store power from the grid during off-peak times are just 1.20 baht per unit (kw/h), while the selling price to the MEA is three baht per unit.
Mr Krisada said the company was looking to commercialise the system for private industrial users, but that government support was needed to help popularise the technology.
"This technology has high potential for the country's energy development. But I haven't yet been able to raise support from any financial institution. I have invested 100 million baht of my own money into the development of the system," he said.
Mr Krisada, a former chief executive of Thai Gypsum Plc, holds together with several company researchers an 80 percent stake in Cellennium Thailand, with Mitsubishi Corp and the Srifuengfung family another 10 percent each.
Placido Maria Spaziante, a former researcher with General Electric, and Robert Exell, a chemical engineer, are among several researchers working at Cellennium to develop the system.
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