Thursday, February 18, 2010

CellEra raises $2 million from Israel Cleantech Ventures and BrainsToVentures

CellEra Inc., a Caesarea, Israel-based start-up developing a platinum-free membrane-based fuel cell technology (PFM-FC), has reportedly raised $2 million from German angel investor group BrainsToVentures and existing investor Israel Cleantech Ventures.

According to a German press release from BrainsToVentures and an article in the Financial Times’ German edition, both of which were originally reported by Earth2Tech, CellEra has raised $2 million and developed its first prototype.

CEO Ziv Gottesfeld, in an interview with Earth2Tech, confirmed the news and said that the $2 million is part of a larger investment round.

Gottesfeld also says that CellEra already is working with a major manufacturer and is integrating its fuel cells into backup power systems. CellEra plans to use its new cash to turn its working prototype into its first commercial product, Gottesfeld told Earth2Tech, adding that the company aims to have products ready for the market in two years.

According to the press release from BrainsToVentures, CellEra believes it can cut fuel-cell development and manufacturing costs by more than 70 percent by eliminating the most expensive material – platinum. Platinum currently costs $1500 per ounce, approximately double the price from a year ago.

Christian Sch├╝etz, a at BrainsToVentures, told the Financial Times’ German edition that he expects CellEra to introduce fuel cells for hybrid cars by 2015.

Gottesfeld refuses to speculate on when CellEra's technology would be ready for vehicle applications, but he said that CellEra's technology could work “very nicely and cost-effectively” with batteries to extend the range of electric vehicles in the future.

CellEra, founded in 2007 by CEO Ziv Gotttesfeld and VP R&D Dario Dekel, raised an inital $2 million investment from Israel Cleantech Ventures in 2008. Later that year, Roger Saillant, a fuel cell industry veteran and former CEO of NASDAQ-listed Plug Power, joined CellEra's board of directors.

CellEra's CTO is Dr. Shimshon Gottesfeld, former CTO for MTI Micro and the director of the fuel cell research program at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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