Brown: New Fuel Cell Unit Will Strengthen American Energy Security, Spur Development of Clean Energy Technology

Departments of Defense, Energy Partner to Install Fuel Cell Backup Power Units at Ohio National Guard Base in Columbus

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced that a fuel cell backup power system will be installed at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base. Through a partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), the fuel cells will test how the fuel cells perform in real world operations, identify any technical improvements manufacturers could make to enhance performance, and highlight the benefits of fuel cells for emergency backup power applications.

“Our national security is threatened by our reliance on petroleum and fossil fuels,” Brown said. “The Ohio National Guard is a national leader in clean energy research and development. These pilot programs will provide valuable information to our nation’s military and spur innovation to support our state’s burgeoning renewable energy manufacturing supply chain while ensuring a safe and reliable fuel source for our national defense.”

Rickenbacker is one of eight military installations that will be receiving emergency fuel cell backup power units. These projects will accelerate the implementation of renewable energy technology at DOD facilities and continue research and development efforts.

Compared with diesel generators—commonly used for backup power—fuel cells use no petroleum, are quieter, and produce fewer pollutants and emissions. Fuel cells also typically require less maintenance and can easily be monitored remotely to reduce maintenance time.

The project is a joint effort by DOD’s U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. DOD will manage the project and DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will collect performance data for the first two years of this five-year demonstration. 

DOE’s Fuel Cell Technologies Program has funded research and development of catalysts, membranes, and other fuel cell components that have resulted in more than 250 patents and 30 commercially available technologies, many of which are in the military backup power systems announced today.  In May 2011, Brown sent a bipartisan letter to DOE Sec. Steven Chu, calling for maintained funding for DOE fuel cell projects that spur long-term job creation and expansion of new clean energy technology.

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