Chemicals company Solvay announced on Feb. 6 its entry into service in Flanders of what it said was the largest fuel cell of its type in the world.

A super-battery that produces enough electricity to power nearly 1,400 homes, the Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell has been producing clean electricity at a "steady rate" for weeks at a SolVin plant part-owned by BASF in Antwerp.

SolVin is a market leader in vinyl, or PVC production.

The fuel cell converts the chemical energy from hydrogen into clean electricity through an electrochemical reaction with oxygen, and "has generated over 500 MWh in about 800 hours of operation," Solvay said.

The company said this equates to the electricity consumption of 1,370 families over the same period.

Fuel-cell technology is tipped by developers as a future power solution for everything from cars to ships.

Flanders has benefited from a 14-million-euro investment in this applied technology, with the EU, the Dutch and the Belgian Flemish governments backers of Solvay's 5 million euros investment.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012