DOE Announces $41.9M for Fuel Cells

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced $41.9 million in stimulus funding for fuel cell technology.

“The investments we’re making today will help us build a robust fuel
cell manufacturing industry in the United States,” said DOE Secretary
Steven Chu.  “Developing and deploying the next generation of fuel
cells will not only create jobs–it will help our businesses become
more energy efficient and productive.”

The $41.9 million will support immediate deployment of nearly 1,000 fuel cell systems for emergency backup power and material handling applications (e.g., forklifts) that have emerged as key early markets in which fuel cells can compete with conventional power technologies. 

Additional systems will be used to accelerate the demonstration of stationary fuel cells for combined heat and power in the larger residential and commercial markets.

The increase in manufacturing volume is expected to bring costs down and encourage the growth of a domestic supplier base. A variety of technologies will be developed and deployed, including polymer electrolyte, solid oxide and direct-methanol fuel cells.

The fundingwill support 13 projects to deploy fuel cells:

FedEx Freight East (Harrison, AR)
This project will deploy 35 fuel cell systems as battery replacements for a complete fleet of electric lift trucks at FedEx’s existing service center in Springfield, Missouri. Success at this service center will lead to further fleet conversions at some or all of FedEx’s other 470 service centers. $1.3 million

Jadoo Power (Folsom, CA)
Jadoo, together with Acumentrics Corporation, NASCAR Media Group, Lynch Diversified Vehicles, California’s Police and Fire Departments of the City of Folsom, and Airgas, Inc., will establish the environmental and cost benefits of using a 1-kW fuel cell power system to generate electricity, as opposed to traditional gas/diesel generators and lead acid battery power sources. This demonstration will provide operating data from each field unit at customer sites, as well as degradation analysis and projected system lifetime. $1.8 million

PolyFuel, Inc. (Mountain View, CA)
The objective of this project is to further integrate and miniaturize the components of PolyFuel’s portable power system for use in mobile computing, and analyze failure modes to increase durability.  Polyfuel will also conduct a design for manufacturability and assembly review to ensure that the systems meet the cost targets for commercialization. $2.5 million

Anheuser-Busch (St. Louis, MO)
Anheuser-Busch will deploy 23 fuel cell systems as battery replacements for a complete fleet of electric lift trucks at their facility in Fort Collins, Colorado, demonstrating the economic benefits of large fleet conversions of forklifts from lead-acid batteries to fuel cell power units. Success in this project will lead to further fleet conversions at some or all of Anheuser-Busch’s other 11 U.S. facilities. $1.1 million

Nuvera Fuel Cells (Billerica, MA)
To accelerate market penetration of fuel cells, East Penn Manufacturing (an industrial and automotive battery manufacturer) and Nuvera will deploy 10 fuel cell forklifts in East Penn’s facility in Topton, PA.  Fuel will be supplied by Nuvera’s natural gas reformer, storage, and dispensing system. $1.1 million

Delphi Automotive (Troy, MI)
Delphi will develop, test and demonstrate a 3- to 5-kW solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) auxiliary power unit (APU) for heavy duty commercial class 8 trucks. The demonstration will improve upon Delphi’s current generation SOFC technology by increasing net output power and fuel processing efficiency, decreasing heat loss and parasitic power loss, and establishing diesel fuel compatibility. $2.4 million

MTI MicroFuel Cells (Albany, NY)
To accelerate fuel cell use in consumer markets, MTI will demonstrate a one-watt consumer electronics power pack.  The project will focus on improving reliability to meet the standards required by the electronics market and will include testing of individual components, subsystems and complete direct methanol fuel cell systems.  MTI will also develop manufacturing processes to improve product yields and reduce overall costs. $2.4 million

Plug Power, Inc. (Latham, NY)
This demonstration project will validate the durability of Plug Power’s 5-kW stationary combined heat and power fuel cell system and verify its commercial readiness. Plug Power will carry out a three-year project to test its units in residential and light commercial applications in California. $3.4 million

Plug Power Inc. (Latham, NY)
This project will demonstrate the market viability of the GenCore® rack-mounted fuel cell product that provides clean and highly reliable emergency backup power. Plug Power will install and operate new systems in real-world applications at geographically-diverse sites, providing for as much as 275 kW of backup power. $2.7 million

GENCO (Pittsburgh, PA)
This project will deploy 156 fuel cell systems as battery replacements for fleets of electric lift trucks at six of GENCO’s existing distribution centers (South Carolina, Pennsylvania – 3 locations, and Ohio – 2 locations).  Success at these distribution centers will lead to further fleet conversions at some or all of GENCO’s other 109 distribution centers. $6.1 million (six awards)

Sysco of Houston (West Houston, TX)
Sysco will deploy 90 fuel cell systems as battery replacements for a fleet of pallet trucks at Sysco’s new distribution center in Houston, Texas, due to open in August 2009. This installation will be the first ever green field installation in the world without battery infrastructure for a pallet truck fleet. Success at this distribution center will lead to further fleet conversions at some or all of Sysco’s other 169 distribution centers. $1.2 million

Sprint Communications (Reston, VA)
Sprint Nextel will demonstrate the viability of packaged 1-kW to 10-kW fuel cell systems with 72 hours of on-site fuel storage for backup power to communication infrastructure used by state and local first responders and by public safety answering points (911 centers). Sprint will address siting and permitting issues, and will benchmark the lifecycle costs, performance, and operational characteristics against the incumbent technologies (batteries, generators, and diesel fuel). $7.3 million

ReliOn Inc. (Spokane, WA)
ReliOn will add reliability to a utility communications network where no backup power was previously available at 25 sites throughout central and northern California. They will deploy 180 fuel cells with a new refillable 72-hour fuel system to locations across the AT&T Mobility Network. This project will provide DOE with installation, fueling logistics, and operating data for fuel cells in voice and data communications networks in mountain, desert, and urban locations. $8.6 million (two awards)

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