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Fuel Cell Firm Feels the Pinch

Fuel cell developer Medis Technologies (s MDTL) has become the latest cleantech company to lay off workers in these tough economic times, saying today that it’s cutting 50 employees at its Israeli office. That’s about 30 percent of the New York-based company’s workforce.


Medis, which is one of the first companies to get a portable fuel cell to market, said the layoffs are part of a larger cost-cutting plan. The company didn’t detail any other cuts to its bottom line, but did say that it’s in talks with its major suppliers and has started restructuring its vendor processes and agreements. Medis said the layoffs affect workers in operations and general administration positions, and the company expects to save $2.6 million in payroll and related expenses with the move.

The company has been working on securing financing for the last few months, and has lined up at least one potential source of funding, saying last month that Ascendiant Capital Group has agreed to provide the company with up to $6 million over two years. But that may not be enough cash to pull the company through this economic downturn. In a subsequent statement, Medis said that the Ascendiant deal is “one of multiple alternatives that the company is currently exploring to fund its operational restructuring and growth over the next twelve months.”

Medis released its 24-7 Power Pack back in 2007. It’s a small fuel cell charger that runs on sodium borohydride that can be used for cell phones and other portable devices. Unfortunately, while it may be one of the first to market, the portable system generates a waste product — borax — and potentially costs more energy to produce than it generates.

Other cleantech companies that have started shedding workers this year include some big players in the wind and solar markets. Wind energy companies Clipper Windpower and Gamesa laid off some staff in January, following on the heels of layoffs at solar firms including OptiSolar and SunTech Power Holdings (s STP).

8 Responses to “Fuel Cell Firm Feels the Pinch”

  1. Uhm… “and potentially costs more energy to produce than it generates.”

    Well, I would sure hope so, unless someone is breaking one of them laws of physics somewhere… if they could run the entire production plant of these then I think they would have made a perpetuum mobile, right? And that is a big no-no… so… I gosh darn hope it costs more energy to produce then it generates.