As reported in The Daily Review, Global Tungsten & Powders Corp. (GTP), a division of the PLANSEE Group, headquartered in Reutte, Austria, announced that it will invest more than $10 million at its plant in Towanda by the end of 2011, including constructing facilities to produce components for solid oxide fuel cells.
The investment is expected to create 30 new jobs at the plant by the end of 2011, which will be needed to produce components of the fuel cells, and more jobs could be created after that, said Craig Rieder, director of human resources at the plant.
Solid oxide fuel cells efficiently convert natural gas, bio-ethanol, or biogas into electricity. The fuel cells provide an alternative to both today’s electric grid and traditional renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
The fuel cells allow customers, “to create their own electricity on site, eliminating the need for investments in transmission lines and concerns with power outages”.
The total amount that GTP plans to spend on capital expenditures at its Towanda plant through the end of 2011 is estimated to be in the, “double digit millions,” Rieder said.
“The investment strategy includes emphasis on new technology of tungsten powder production, military products, phosphor, specialty products and the solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) project is estimated in the double digit millions in capital expenditures by the end of 2011”.
GTP is embarking on a “multi-year investment plan” at its Towanda plant that will increase the capacity of its core tungsten powder business and allow the plant to produce components of solid oxide fuel cells. The plans to produce a component for solid oxide fuel cells at the Towanda plant is, “very good news, because it means increased business for the plant and additional jobs”, Rieder said.
“At the core of each SOFC are fuel cell stacks, consisting of ceramic electrolytes joined together with a thin metal interconnect,” the press release said. “The interconnects are made from an advanced refractory metal alloy engineered by GTP to allow the stacks to operate continuously at temperatures of approximately 900° Celsius (1,652 Fahrenheit) without deteriorating, while maintaining high electrical conductivity. GTP produces the interconnects using a powder metallurgy process.”
The construction of the addition for the production of components for solid oxide fuel cells has already started, and will be completed later this year. Manufacturing equipment for the SOFC components is scheduled to arrive at the plant late this year, with production of the components scheduled to begin by the summer of 2011.
Business conditions have been improving since the economic crisis of 2009, however GTP remains cautious that the improvement will be sustained over time. GTP currently employs just over 900 employees.