Fuji Electric Co., Ltd. has announced that its European subsidiary, Fuji Electric Europe GmbH, has completed an agreement to acquire 70% of the shares of N2telligence, a German fuel cell company in Wismar, Germany. N2telligence is best known for holding the exclusive license for the patent on a fire prevention system using exhaust air from fuel cells. The acquisition is part of Fuji Electric's plan to expand their business in the areas of clean and renewable energy, including geothermal, hydro, PV, and fuel cells.

A key application for fuel cells is their use in fire prevention systems, which initially brought Fuji Electric and N2telligence together. N2telligence holds the exclusive license for the patent for this fire prevention system using exhaust air from fuel cells. Since establishing a cooperative business with Fuji Electric in 2009, it has sold fuel cells made by Fuji Electric to major automobile manufacturers, internet data centers, and other facilities. Fuji Electric's intention with this acquisition is to strengthen and expand its fuel cell business in Germany and other parts of Europe.

Fuel cells expel air while they are generating electricity, and that exhaust air has a lower oxygen concentration than the air in the atmosphere. By pumping that reduced-oxygen air into a building, it creates a low-oxygen environment (usually 15% oxygen content) that prevents fires from starting, so fuel cells can be used as a fire-prevention system.

In Germany, a growing number of fire prevention systems using low-oxygen air are being installed in warehouses and internet data centers as part of disaster-prevention measures. Employing fuel cells or traditional compressors, these systems have the advantage of preventing damage to goods, materials, and archives, etc. from water or chemicals used in conventional fire extinguishers. Already in Germany, approximately 1,000 of such systems have been installed and annual growth of 20% is anticipated in this market, according to Fujitsu officials. Fuel cells have the advantage of generating energy in addition to producing low-oxygen air rather than compressors which consume energy.

In addition to N2telligence's exclusive patent license and its commercial distribution networks, Fuji Electric says it plans to use its technological capabilities to strengthen the company's engineering capabilities.