staff and news service reports
updated 4/6/2005 9:52:52 AM ET 2005-04-06T13:52:52

British engine maker Rolls-Royce Group on Wednesday put a major down payment on fuel cell technology, just don't expect it to translate into a luxury vehicle that runs on hydrogen.

What Rolls-Royce and a consortium backed by Singapore's government are instead betting on is fuel cell technology to provide clean energy to homes and buildings.

They'll be investing $100 million to build a system that generates one megawatt of environmentally friendly electricity — sufficient for 200 households — by 2007 or 2008, the venture’s chairman and chief executive, Charles Coltman, told a news conference.

“Every customer that is using the conventional source is a potential customer for this product,” Rolls-Royce chief executive Sir John Rose told the news briefing.

Fuel cells have been touted as environmentally sound electricity producers that could replace fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas as the world’s primary energy source. They operate by generating electricity through a chemical reaction between hydrogen and air that leaves water and heat as the only byproducts.

Rolls-Royce stated that its "power system promises to be significantly more efficient than any conventional gas turbine or reciprocating engine, with far less impact on the environment."

Rolls-Royce, which began researching fuel cell technology in 1992, will own 75 percent of the venture, Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems Ltd., with EnerTek Singapore Pte. Ltd. owning the remainder.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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