N2telligence turns Japanese

Exler, Frahm
Andreas Exler and Lars Frahm (right)

At the onset of 2016, N2telligence was renamed Fuji N2telligence. But it was not until early this year that Fuji Electric Europe, headquartered in Offenbach, Germany, acquired all of the company’s assets. Before the deal went through, the number of staff members on N2telligence’s payroll had shrunk to four. Lars Frahm and Andreas Exler, its founders and former chief executives, left at the turn of this year.

Frahm and Exler launched the fire safety specialist business in 2006. Over the years, they installed more than a dozen fuel cell systems that generated not only electricity and heat (or cold) but also air low in oxygen. One example of their work is the large fuel cell system put up at Nordfrost in Herne. The company catered mainly to the refrigeration market. For example, German food processing giant Dr. Oetker purchased three N2telligence systems for its factory halls. Nearly all projects were completed without the aid of public funds.

Frahm, who once worked at Airbus, said N2telligence systems were originally intended for server rooms as well. But the company abandoned its plans after it became clear that far too many people would be entering and leaving these facilities regularly. By contrast, their devices are ideal for sites storing frozen goods, since water does not extinguish fires at subzero temperatures and some facilities are too large to allow the use of inert gases, such as argon or nitrogen, to control the flames.

A difficult time for business, Frahm said, was 2016, after the German government revised the CHP act. The new rules made funding unavailable to large stationary fuel cell power plants with more than 5 kilowatts of capacity. Had Fuji not intervened shortly thereafter, the company would have surely gone under that year.

Fuji N2telligence’s new chief executives are Tai Sakata and Yoichiro Yamamoto, who flew in from Japan to take over the business. Its other two employees will remain to answer technical and administrative questions. Frahm and Exler continue on as advisers to Fuji as well as Fuji N2telligence (FN2). In late January, they founded their new business, N-zwo, which offers development, consultancy and promotional services to clients applying stationary fuel cell systems to energy generation and oxygen reduction.

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