Fuel Cells: Efficient, Pollution-free Alternative to Convert Fuel into Electricity

Lockheed Martin is working to make fuel generators rugged enough for military applications

The DoD has more than 100,000 generators or “gensets” deployed around the world.  Gensets are major consumers of fuel in the battlefield, providing power for warfighters in theater ranging from lighting and air conditioning to powering computers, radios and other command and control systems. Fuel to operate the gensets is not cheap. By the time the fuel reaches deployed troops, the cost ranges from tens to hundreds of dollars per gallon. And, the troops who transport the fuel are some of the most exposed in the battlefield.

Fuel Cells offer an efficient, pollution-free alternative to convert fuel into electricity. Unlike the combustion engines in today’s diesel generators, Fuel Cells use a chemical reaction to produce electricity – resulting in one-third to half the amount of fuel needed. This emerging technology offers the potential of reduced emissions and higher fuel efficiency.

To advance the commercialization of Fuel Cell technology, the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) awarded the team of Stark State College, Lockheed Martin and Technology Management Inc. (TMI) a $1.7 million contract to further develop fuel cell technology and to develop a prototype system to reduce fuel consumption.

“The SOFC genset is cleaner, more efficient and more cost effective than existing military gensets, potentially saving billions in fuel costs.” Steve Sinsabaugh, Lockheed Martin fellow. 

Stark State will serve as the prime. Lockheed Martin and TMI will work to develop a more rugged fuel cell genset capable of withstanding harsh military environments. Utilizing the core technology developed by TMI, the team has built multiple full-cell-powered gensets operating on the military’s high sulfur JP-8 standard fuel – a unique technological achievement. The test generators demonstrated more than 675 hours of operation, including 100 hours of continuous operation in August 2010.

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