This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

November 30, 2011

DOE Highlights Commissioning of Army Fuel Cell System

DOE on November 17 recognized the commissioning of an innovative fuel cell system at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. The fuel cell will supply the facility with emergency backup power. The four-stack system is one of the first of 18 fuel cells to be installed and operated at military bases across the country under an interagency partnership between DOE and the Department of Defense. Under the partnership, the departments test how the fuel cells perform in real-world operations, identify technical improvements manufacturers can make to enhance performance, and highlight the benefits of fuel cells for emergency backup power applications.

Compared with batteries, fuel cells are a reliable source of backup power because they offer long continuous run times and greater durability in harsh outdoor environments, which makes them ideal power sources for military applications. Unlike traditional electricity generators used for backup power, fuel cells use no petroleum and are quieter. And, they produce fewer pollutants and emissions than traditional generators do. Fuel cells also typically require less maintenance than either batteries or traditional generators do, and they can easily be monitored remotely to reduce maintenance time.

Aberdeen Proving Ground will also install three 5-killowatt (kW) fuel cells to provide critical back up power to its Range Control and Coordination Building, and an 8-kW fuel cell to provide backup power to the Snow Emergency building. Seven other military installations will install emergency fuel cell backup power under the memorandum of understanding signed by DOE and Defense in 2010. The Defense Department will manage the $6.6 million project, and DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory will collect performance data for the first two years of this five-year demonstration, making the data available to fuel cell developers and commercial and government leaders interested in adopting this technology. See the DOE press release and DOE's Fuel Cells Technology Program website.

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