Rolls-Royce has announced a fuel cell partnership with Ohio-based American Electric Power (AEP) and launched a new US subsidiary, Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems Inc, which has established its headquarters and a technology centre in Ohio.

The new subsidiary will team with AEP to test and evaluate prototype fuel cell systems at the Dolan Technology Center and Walnut Test Facility located near Columbus, OH. A three year field testing programme is due to start next year. It will operate its business on the campus of the Stark State College of Technology, Canton, OH, where it will occupy the purpose-built Fuel Cell Prototyping Center constructed earlier this year. Rolls-Royce began research into fuel cell technology in 1992 and in 2003 it established Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems Ltd. Last year the company partnered with Singaporean consortium EnerTek to invest jointly US$100 million towards developing a commercially-viable power system based on fuel cell technology.

The company has also opened a new facility at Loughborough University in the UK to pilot the production of ceramic components for use in fuel cell systems. The Rolls-Royce fuel cell effort is focused on developing 1 MW SOFC systems made of 200 kW modules.