Five Kilowatt Fuel Cell Demonstration for Remote Power Applications

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While most areas of the US are serviced by inexpensive, dependable grid connected electrical power, many areas of Alaska are not. In these areas, electrical power is provided with Diesel Electric Generators (DEGs), at much higher cost than in grid connected areas. The reasons for the high cost of power are many, including the high relative cost of diesel fuel delivered to the villages, the high operational effort required to maintain DEGs, and the reverse benefits of scale for small utilities. Recent progress in fuel cell technologies have lead to the hope that the DEGs could be replaced with a ... continued below

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Witmer, Dennis; Johnson, Tom & Schmid, Jack December 31, 2008.

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While most areas of the US are serviced by inexpensive, dependable grid connected electrical power, many areas of Alaska are not. In these areas, electrical power is provided with Diesel Electric Generators (DEGs), at much higher cost than in grid connected areas. The reasons for the high cost of power are many, including the high relative cost of diesel fuel delivered to the villages, the high operational effort required to maintain DEGs, and the reverse benefits of scale for small utilities. Recent progress in fuel cell technologies have lead to the hope that the DEGs could be replaced with a more efficient, reliable, environmentally friendly source of power in the form of fuel cells. To this end, the University of Alaska Fairbanks has been engaged in testing early fuel cell systems since 1998. Early tests were conducted on PEM fuel cells, but since 2001, the focus has been on Solid Oxide Fuel Cells. In this work, a 5 kW fuel cell was delivered to UAF from Fuel Cell Technologies of Kingston, Ontario. The cell stack is of a tubular design, and was built by Siemens Westinghouse Fuel Cell division. This stack achieved a run of more than 1 year while delivering grid quality electricity from natural gas with virtually no degradation and at an electrical efficiency of nearly 40%. The project was ended after two control system failures resulted in system damage. While this demonstration was successful, considerable additional product development is required before this technology is able to provide electrical energy in remote Alaska. The major issue is cost, and the largest component of system cost currently is the fuel cell stack cost, although the cost of the balance of plant is not insignificant. While several manufactures are working on schemes for significant cost reduction, these systems do not as yet provide the same level of performance and reliability as the larger scale Siemens systems, or levels that would justify commercial deployment.

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  • Report No.: None
  • Grant Number: FC26-01NT41248
  • DOI: 10.2172/963356 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 963356
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc933361

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • December 31, 2008

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

Description Last Updated

  • Nov. 28, 2016, 4:38 p.m.

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Witmer, Dennis; Johnson, Tom & Schmid, Jack. Five Kilowatt Fuel Cell Demonstration for Remote Power Applications, report, December 31, 2008; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc933361/: accessed May 26, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.