Plug Power wins new hydrogen fuel cell contract

DOE contract aims to examine the viability of hydrogen fuel cells

Plug Power, a leading developer of hydrogen fuel cells, has been awarded a new contract from the U.S. Department of Energy. The contract, worth approximately $650,000, aims to demonstrate the viability of using hydrogen fuel cells to power refrigeration units in semi-trailer trucks. Such refrigeration units are often used to preserve perishable and frozen food products as they are shipped across the country. Fuel cells may be able to reduce the energy demands of such units and mitigate the emissions that they are responsible for.

Fuel cells could be an ideal replacement for diesel generators

Approximately 300,000 transport refrigeration units (TRUs) are currently operating throughout the U.S. Most are powered by diesel generators that produce significant amounts of nitrous oxide emissions. One TRU will typically consume as much as 10 gallons of diesel every day, producing approximately 101 kilograms of carbon dioxide and other emissions. Replacing these generators with hydrogen fuel cells would remove emissions from the equation entirely.

Hydrogen Fuel - Plug Power and US DOETRU fuel cells to be based off GenDrive technology

Many of Plug Power’s hydrogen fuel cells are used for materials handling purposes. These fuel cells have become quite popular with companies that operate large fork lift fleets and have a need to mitigate energy costs and emissions. As such, the company has a significant degree of experience when it comes to developing fuel cells that are both relatively small but powerful and suited for transportation purposes. The company’s TRU fuel cells will be based on its popular GenDrive units, which are widely used in materials handling.

Fuel cells to be evaluated by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Plug Power expects that each of its TRU fuel cells will be able to operate for a minimum of 400 hours over a two-year period. The hydrogen fuel needed for these fuel cells will be provided by Air Products, a leading producer of chemical gases. The project will be overseen by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and researchers will gauge the performance of Plug Power’s hydrogen fuel cells and determine whether they can be a viable replacement for conventional diesel generators.

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