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New hydrogen purification system completes natural gas fuel cell system

BEND, Ore., Dec. 18, 2000 (PRNewswire) — IdaTech, a subsidiary of IDACORP (NYSE: IDA), announced today the issuance of a patent on its new hydrogen purification technology and the completion of its development of a natural gas fuel cell system. The patent, issued by the U.S. Patent office, could be crucial to commercialization of IdaTech’s fuel cell systems for electric power generation.

“This new, patented technology enables more efficient production of hydrogen without sacrificing purity in the process,” said Alan Guggenheim, president of IdaTech. The patent, IdaTech’s third, covers technology invented by Dr. David J. Edlund, senior vice president and chief technology officer of IdaTech. IdaTech has more than two-dozen other applications pending for various innovations to its fuel cell technology.

IdaTech also announced successful development and demonstration of a prototype, combined-heat-and-power natural gas fuel cell system, measuring 30 inches deep, 43 inches wide and 48 inches tall. The system produced two kilowatts of electricity and 3.9 kilowatts of thermal energy for space and water heating.

“Our natural gas system is an experimental prototype that needs an estimated two years of engineering to achieve commercial reliability. However, we are happy with the compact design and the thermal recovery,” said Guggenheim. “Completion of this milestone means we are on track to commercialize 1 kilowatt and 3 kilowatt electric power generators for certain stationary applications in late 2002 and residential systems in 2003.”

The company also announced independent verification of the sulfur-rejecting capability of its natural gas fuel processor. The design is expected to lead to a reduction in operating costs and to greater operating reliability.

Operating on commercial natural gas, IdaTech’s patented fuel processor produced 99.95% pure hydrogen containing less than 0.1 parts per billion sulfur without costly and cumbersome scrubbing, according to analysis by MicroAnalytics Corporation. Fuel cell systems produce electricity from hydrogen, which is derived from conventional fuels, such as methanol, natural gas and propane. Sulfur and other contaminants, such as carbon monoxide, can poison a fuel cell.

IdaTech is a world leader in the development of compact, low-cost fuel cell power generation systems and components. IdaTech is majority owned by IDACORP Technologies, the clean-energy subsidiary of Boise-based IDACORP. For more information, visit www.idatech.com or www.idacorpinc.com.

SOURCE: IdaTech