Caterpillar collabs with Microsoft and Ballard for HFC technology demonstration project

Caterpillar collabs with Microsoft and Ballard for HFC technology demonstration project

December 5, 2022 1 By Angie Bergenson

The project will use hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) tech for backup power at a Microsoft data center.

The demonstration project using HFC technology that will be launched by Caterpillar Inc. will show how a power system that incorporates large-format hydrogen fuel cells can generate sustainable and reliable backup energy at Microsoft data centers.

The U.S. Department of Energy has supported and partially funded the project.

The three-year project is a collaboration between Caterpillar, Microsoft, and Ballard Power Systems. It has received support and funds from the DOE under the H2@Scale initiative and the project has also been backed by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL).

HFC Technology - Data Center

For the project, Caterpillar is providing the power electronics, controls and overall system integration that comprise the central structure of the power solution, which will be powered by low-carbon-intensity hydrogen. Microsoft is hosting the demonstration project, which will be held at one of their data centers in Quincy, Washington. Ballard is supplying the HFC technology, an advanced hydrogen fuel cell module. The NREL is studying the safety, techno-economics and greenhouse gas impacts of the project.

The demonstration project aims to show how HFC technology can be a commercially viable energy solution.

Advanced power technology, control, and system integration experts at Caterpillar are working with Microsoft’s data center design experts and Ballards’ fuel cell design experts to demonstrate a 1.5-megawatt backup power delivery and control system intended to meet or surpass the expectations that have been set by present day diesel engine systems.

“This hydrogen fuel cell demonstration project enables us to collaborate with industry leaders to take a large step toward commercially viable power solutions that also support our customers in making their operations more sustainable,” said Jason Kaiser, vice president for Caterpillar’s Electric Power Division.

Also commenting on the project, Christian Belady, Distinguished Engineer and VP, Advancedhydrogen fuel cell news free ebook Development, Cloud Operations + Innovation at Microsoft, said, “This latest project with Caterpillar will provide valuable insights into how to leverage hydrogen fuel cells for backup power in our datacenters at scale.”

Additionally, Ballard Power Systems’ President and CEO, Randy MacEwen expressed excitement about the HFC technology collaboration and said, “The results of the project will provide key insights into the capability of fuel cell systems to scale and serve multi-megawatt data centers.”

MacEwen added that the demonstration project using HFC technology will explore – from cost and performance point of views – the scalability of fuel cells systems fueled by low carbon-intensity hydrogen.

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