ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The U.S. Army is installing hydrogen fuel cells at three Aberdeen Proving Ground facilities as part of an initiative to boost alternative energy sources at military installations, officials announced Nov. 14.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, or USACE, and U.S. Department of Energy are leading the fuel-cell project at 24 buildings across nine federal sites. APG, will be the first to be completed, with the other installations scheduled for the next six months, said Nicholas Josefik, project manager with the USACE Engineer Research and Development Center.

APG's fuel cells are electro-chemical devices that use hydrogen as a fuel to produce backup electricity without having to combust the fuel, Josefik said.

APG held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Nov. 16 at the Building Operations Control Center (Building 325) to mark the project's completion. The Edgewood Area snow removal center (Building E2194) and Aberdeen Test Center range control (Building E7010) will also receive fuel cells.

"This project provides an opportunity to evaluate quiet, non-polluting fuel cells for a specific application - - backup power. These fuel cells can provide energy security and increase mission performance," Josefik said.

Fuel cells have several advantages for backup power compared with combustion generators, Josefik said.

In addition, Fuel cells:
- Do not produce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Are quieter than combustion generators when operating.
- Perform self checks and send notices when service is required.
- Can be remotely monitored to determine usage and fuel levels.
- Are twice as efficient as combustion generators.
- Can continue providing power to the load with no loss of service when a grid outage occurs; typically, combustion generators require time to start up resulting in a loss of power for equipment.
- Automatically detect when grid power is restored and shut down automatically.

Finally, there is no need for human intervention for the fuel cells to provide emergency backup power.

USACE is also using wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, biofuel and waste-to-energy to support Department of Defense green initiatives, Josefik said.

The DOE Fuel Cell Technologies Program funded most of the $2.5 million project, which allows cost sharing with federal agencies to spur early markets for fuel cells. The fuel cells will operate for five years with an option for the host sites to fund an extension.

Other installations that will receive fuel cell units are Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Hood, Texas; the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.; Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.; Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Base, Colo.; U.S. Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif.; the Ohio National Guard; and NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.

Page last updated Fri December 9th, 2011 at 00:00