ReliOn plans to introduce smaller fuel cell

Journal of Business

By Jeanne Gustafson

New system is expected to be available this year for smaller-scale backup

SPOKANE, WA- Spokane Valley technology company ReliOn Inc. says it’s developing a new, smaller version of its hydrogen fuel-cell system.

Called the Eco-200 fuel cell system, the new version should be available commercially in the fourth quarter of this year and uses ReliOn’s patented technology. It provides backup and emergency power for smaller-scale power applications.

The company’s fuel-cell technology generates electricity through an electrochemical reaction using hydrogen and oxygen, with water being the only byproduct, and it has earned exemption from stringent air quality standards such as those set by the California Air Resources Board.

ReliOn says the Eco-200 is designed to be an economical small-scale backup power solution that can provide hundreds of hours of run time and lasts for 10 to 15 years. The product is a complete fuel-cell system housed in a 3.5-inch tall rack-mountable package.

The new product is smaller both in power and size than ReliOn’s other products, says spokeswoman Sandra Saathoff. It will provide 200 watts of power, ideal for backup power for equipment such as railroad signals, surveillance systems, and microwave repeaters used in air-to-ground communications systems for air traffic controllers, Saathoff says.

Currently, many of ReliOn’s customers use the larger hydrogen backup systems, which are designed to provide between 500 watts and 12 kilowatts of backup power for those applications, but it will be less expensive and more efficient to use the smaller version, she says.

Many of ReliOn’s customers are wireless telecommunication providers, but it also serves other markets, including wire-line telecommunications, government, security, and utility communications and transportation networks.

ReliOn incorporated in 1995 as Avista Laboratories INc., then a subsidiary of Avista Corp. A portion of Avista Labs was sold to venture capitalists in 2003, and the company was renamed ReliOn the following year.

The company currently has 45 employees, most of whom work at its Spokane Valley location, at 15913 E Euclid, Saathoff says. It has sold its products to more than 600 customers in 18 countries.