Plug Power chosen for new tow tractor project
Plug Power, a leading developer of hydrogen fuel cells, will be receiving a $2.5 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy. Per the award, the company is to retrofit 15 electric tow tractors so that they operate using hydrogen fuel cells rather than traditional lithium-ion batteries. These vehicles will then be deployed at two FedEx departments at domestic airports in Tennessee and California. Natural gas will be used to produce hydrogen fuel at these airports, which will then be used to power the tow tractors.
Funding comes from Department of Energy’s continued interest in hydrogen fuel cells
The funding is part of the Department of Energy’s continued research into hydrogen fuel cells. The agency has, in the past, been leery of hydrogen fuel cells due to concerns over efficiency and cost. In 2011, that mentality began to change as the agency saw how capable the energy systems could be. Now, the Department of Energy has emerged as a supporter of hydrogen fuel cells. This support, however, is modest when compared to that given to solar and wind energy.
Performance data will determine viability of fuel cells
During the first phase of the project, Plug Power will develop the fuel cells needed for the tow tractors and testing their capabilities. Subsequent phases will revolve around the deployment of the fuel cells and the operation of the tow tractors. Performance data will be collected and used to determine whether the fuel cells are a viable energy option for this particular endeavor. If the Department of Energy deems that fuel cells are, in fact, viable, the agency is likely to throw more support behind the energy systems.
Government support could bring Plug Power closer to commercialization
Government support goes a long way in the fuel cell industry. Hydrogen fuel cells have only recently begun to grow more popular with the world’s governments and the support provided by these organizations could move the industry one step closer to the commercialization of fuel cells. Plug Power is currently one of the few companies in its industry that is on the verge of attain commercialization for its fuel cell products.