Photo: Plug Power
Plug Power GenDrive fuel cells

Plug Power accelerates on-road fuel cell tech with acquisition

June 25, 2018
Expanding its R&D capabilities and systems knowledge in hydrogen-electric fuel cells, Plug Power acquired American Fuel Cell.

Earlier this month, electric fuel cell maker Plug Power announced it has acquired American Fuel Cell, a developer of membrane electrode assembly technology. That's a core component that allows fuel cells to create electric power, and Plug Power said the acquisition is meant to accelerate its expansion into the on-road industry, including delivery vehicle fleets.

As adoption of electric fleet vehicles increases, Plug Power also noted it will continue "innovating with speed" through specialized research and development teams such as American Fuel Cell. The acquisition adds design capability for membrane electrode assemblies and system knowledge for on-road applications to Plug Power.

This spring, Plug Power and Workhorse Group built and delivered FedEx's first fuel cell-powered electric delivery van. With the global push for cleaner solutions for transportation of goods and passengers and targets for reduced emissions in the near future, Plug Power sees growth for fuel cell powertrains and a need for "extensive innovation" for the technology.

"When high asset utilization and range is important, fuel cells offer a more effective and flexible power source vs. batteries alone," the company states in a video showing its operations.

Fuel cells can generate "clean, efficient" electricity and provide high power density, extended range and rapid refueling for vehicles, according to Plug Power. American Fuel Cell's team of specialists based in Rochester, NY, will apply their collective experience from past work at General Motors to optimizing drive systems and developing membrane electrode assemblies, especially for on-road applications.

The acquisition also gives Plug Power a facility in Rochester, expanding the company's existing footprint in New York State. The entire staff of American Fuel Cell will become Plug Power employees, according to the two companies.

Daniel O'Connell, CEO of American Fuel Cell, said the Plug Power acquisition will provide "a significant impact in the application of our commercially viable, innovative system solutions to products in the field." 

"At Plug Power we see demand [for fuel cells] increasing each month," contended Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power. "We're looking forward to working together to create a cleaner, more efficient future as on-road applications grow and electric fleet vehicles increasingly become the norm."  

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