The Swiss technology group, Sulzer, has told a daily newspaper that it is close to developing fuel cell technology to tap alternative energy sources.
Roland Diethelm, head of the Sulzer Hexis division, told the German language Swiss newspaper, the Tages-Anzeiger, that the group plans to have an initial production series up and running by 2003.
He added that mass production was scheduled to start in 2004.
One project highlighted in the report centres on household energy. Diethelm said Sulzer's research had showed that fuel cells powered with natural gas and oxygen can produce electricity without generating nitric oxides, as traditional methods do.
A Japanese company makes the individual cells in compact disc format, while Sulzer coats and stacks them in a special process.
Sulzer has invested SFr60 million ($35 million) in the project so far, and expects to spend SFr100 million in all by 2004, the paper said.
It foresees annual demand of around 100,000 units at a price of around SFr7,000 each.
"Independent advisors assure us that we are two to three years ahead of our competitors," Diethelm told the Tages-Anzeiger.
Other companies trying to develop alternative energy sources include ABB and Daimler Chrysler.
swissinfo with agencies