Robert Schluter and Dave Edlund, co-founders of Element 1, have a lot of knowledge about hydrogen gas, and they’re about to share it with the rest of the world.
The two are ready to market their hydrogen fuel cell technology, which can power ships, trains, and stationary applications such as wireless networks, data centers, and hospitals that require a constant supply of power, after more than a decade of development. The system uses methanol to produce hydrogen in a method that eliminates the need for large tanks to store the renewable energy supply.
Element 1 was established in 2010 and has grown to employ about 18 people at its Bend headquarters on Plateau Drive, where it develops and sells advanced hydrogen generation technology while also tapping into young talent at Oregon State University-Cascades. It’s the type of business that helps the Central Oregon economy diversify, according to Roger Lee, CEO of Economic Development for Central Oregon.
The company signed a letter of intent in March with Ardmore Shipping Corp. and Maritime Partners LLC to bring the company’s methanol-to-hydrogen technology to the marine market.
Using fire, pressure, and catalysts, the company’s hydrogen purification technology transforms methanol and water liquid feedstock, which are high in hydrogen molecules, into pure fuel-cell quality hydrogen.
Josh Tibbits, an Element 1 engineer, joined the organization seven years ago as a fresh-faced 34-year-old college graduate from the OSU-Cascades Energy Systems Engineering program, which the college developed to meet a niche need.
Element 1’s business strategy is to create technology and make it ready for commercial use before licensing the product to others to produce. A trucking business in Changchun, China, is already using the company’s fuel-cell technology.