Plan on Course
Fuel cell battery plant dedication signals the steel maker's diverse biz lines
POSCO completed the largest plant for power generating batteries in Pohang on Sept. 4. The dedication ceremony for the brand new plant built by POSCO as part of its plan to diversify its business lines took place at the battery plant in the Yongil Bay Industrial Complex in North Gyeongsang Province, attended by a slew of dignitaries led by Minister of Knowledge Economy Lee Youn-ho, Rep. Lee Sang-deuk, Pohang Mayor Park Seung-ho and POSCO Chairman Lee Ku-taek.
The POSCO chairman said in his speech that the fuel battery is a phenomenal answer to the fossil fuel problem, whose reserves are drying up, and for the prevention of environmental pollution.
He said fuel battery technologies will continuously be developed to globalize the business and at the same time make Pohang the global center of fuel battery production.
POSCO decided to enter the fuel battery production business in February last year after signing an agreement with FCE Co., a U.S. fuel battery maker, on the transfer of fuel battery production technologies.
The company set up an affiliate to launch the construction of the fuel battery plant in October last year.
The new fuel battery plant has the capacity to turn out enough fuel batteries to generate power for 17,000 homes, double the production at the FCE plant in the United States.
The fuel battery produces electricity from chemical reactions of oxygen and hydrogen in the air with the advantage that it can use both the heat and electricity generated by the batteries during the process.
The power generation rate is 47 percent in the fuel battery, compared to 35 percent for thermal power plants, but with no environmental pollution. The rate is determined by the energy input needed to produce the battery and the output of the product.
The capacity of a fuel battery is easy to control and, therefore, can be installed in any place including large power plants, factories, apartments, and hospitals located in downtown areas. Many advanced countries are set to take on the business.
POSCO plans to build another plant similar to and nearby the one just dedicated by 2011. The steel maker plans to set up the Research Institute for Science and Technology to secure the basic technology for fuel batteries in cooperation with the Pohang Technology Institute to focus on the development of a second generation fuel battery, which can produce 10 percent more power for 20 percent less cost.
In the meantime, POSCO's employees took time out to make 3,000 aid kits on June 26 to be sent to areas stricken by natural disasters such as typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis. Each kit contains 18 kinds of materials including medicine, blankets and towels worth some 100,000 won each. Those kits will be stored in warehouses and shipped to the disaster-stricken areas within 48 hours of a disaster.
POSCO Chairman Lee participated in the project along with CEOs and executives of POSCO affiliates such as POSCO Construction, POSData and POSCO as well as President Yoon Nam-jung of Measures for Hunger Inc.
POSCO and its affiliate companies have been making the aid kits for three years and were able to make 3,000 kits in only two hours.
Chairman Lee said the company would like to assist the victims of natural disasters as soon as they occur by immediately sending the aid kits to the areas. nw
(Photo left) Chairman Lee Ku-taek of POSCO explains to President Lee Myung-bak the workings of the steel maker's fuel cell battery business, which was named as a green growth business on Sept. 11 at Cheong Wa Dae, the Presidential Office.
(photo right) Chairman Lee Ku-taek of POSCO.