Breakthrough Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC) Technology Portfolio Licensed from USC/Caltech by SFC Energy, Inc.
May 3, 2011
DMFC technology is clean, efficient, and grid-free source of energy for the planet.
May 3, 2011 (Los Angeles, CA) – The University of Southern California, the California Institute of Technology, and SFC Energy, Inc. today announced the execution of a license to an extensive portfolio of U.S. patents for direct methanol fuel cell technology (DMFC). The nonexclusive license to the universities’ patents will facilitate SFC Energy, Inc.’s expansion of its methanol fuel cell products into the U.S. market.
(From Left to Right) Fred Farina, Chief Innovation Officer, Caltech; Christian Boehm, President SFC Energy, Inc.; Elizabeth Garrett, Provost, USC
Direct methanol fuel cells hold promise as a clean and efficient technology for generating grid-independent electricity directly from methanol, a liquid fuel that is ubiquitously available. DMFC technology does not require an external fuel reformer, and is an excellent candidate for very small to mid-sized applications, such as portable consumer electronics and vehicle power plants. SFC Energy Inc.’s product line ranges from portable fuel cells used to power equipment for field personnel, to systems that supply auxiliary power for electrical systems on boats, motor homes, and special-purpose vehicles.
The licensed technology was invented by a USC Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute team led by G. K. Surya Prakash and Nobel laureate George Olah, and by S. Surampudi, S. R. Narayanan, E. Vamos, H. Frank, and G. Halpert at Caltech/JPL. It includes fundamental patents covering the direct conversion of liquid fuels to electricity by specially designed fuel cells. The universities had previously licensed the patent portfolio to other companies, but those licenses have terminated.
SFC Energy, Inc. is the U.S. affiliate of SFC Energy AG. USC, Caltech, and SFC Energy AG are in discussions regarding a license to the patents that the universities hold in countries outside of the United States.
“We are very excited to see this disruptive technology moving into commercial use,” said Krisztina ‘Z’ Holly, Vice Provost for Innovation at USC and Executive Director of the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation, which manages licensing of the DMFC patent portfolio on behalf of USC and Caltech. “We now look forward to continuing our efforts to move this technology into the market, through additional licenses with other companies, both in the U.S. and abroad.”
“SFC Energy AG is a leader in the application of DMFC technology, and we are very pleased to be working with their U.S. affiliate,” said Fred Farina, Caltech's Chief Innovation Officer.
Dr. Peter Podesser, CEO of SFC Energy AG, characterized the license agreement as “a key element of our strategic plan for growing the company. With this license in place, we are well positioned to bring our reliable alternative energy sources to U.S. consumers.”
About SFC Energy Inc. and SFC Energy AG
SFC Energy, Inc. is the U.S. affiliate of SFC Energy AG, a market leader in fuel cell technologies for mobile and off-grid power applications serving the consumer, professional, and defense/security markets. SFC Energy AG has alliances with leading companies in a wide range of industries. Unlike most other fuel cell manufacturers, who are in the research and development phase or run subsidized demonstration projects, SFC Energy AG has, outside the U.S. market, already shipped more than 20,000 fully commercial systems to industrial and private end users for more than six years, and has created a convenient fuel cartridge supply infrastructure.