Renewables

Proton Energy Systems awarded solar/PEM fuel cell power system project at China Lake

WALLINGFORD, Conn., Feb. 3, 2003 — Producing power from renewable energy sources just got another boost this winter.

Proton Energy Systems, Inc. has been awarded a $375,000 contract to develop a 1 kW regenerative solar/fuel cell system to demonstrate use of a grid-independent power plant that generates electricity in a closed-loop system from renewable, non-polluting resources.

The contract, with Jacobs Sverdrup Technology, Inc., a subcontractor to the U.S. Navy, will support testing at the Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake, California.

The demonstration system will integrate Proton’s UNIGEN® Regenerative Fuel Cell System, which includes several subsystems, including a hydrogen generator, hydrogen storage tanks, a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell, and a Navy supplied solar photovoltaic (PV) array. The hydrogen generator, a key module in this project, will incorporate Proton’s patent-pending renewable interface, which is capable of producing hydrogen from water using electricity directly generated by the solar array.

Proton will integrate the system in conjunction with Northern Power Systems, a leader in reliable power generation and renewable energy applications. This system will be shipped to the Navy’s China Lake facility later this year for testing.

According to John Speranza, Proton Energy System’s renewable program engineering manager, the goal of the project is to demonstrate grid independent, constant power output using a renewable energy system capable of remote operation. “By combining the UNIGEN® Regenerative Fuel Cell system with the Navy’s PV array, the project’s goal is to eliminate batteries or other bridging device for a seamless transition from solar to fuel cell power. The project will also continually recycle water that is a byproduct of the UNIGEN’s® fuel cell component, using it as a feedstock for the same unit’s hydrogen generator.”

During a six-month test program, the system’s solar panels will supply power during daylight hours, while simultaneously using some of the solar electricity to generate hydrogen for tank storage. During nighttime hours, the system will utilize the tank-stored hydrogen produced from sunlight as an input to the UNIGEN’s PEM fuel cell.

According to Proton Energy System’s President and CEO Walter “Chip” Schroeder, “We are delighted to have this opportunity to work with Jacobs Sverdrup and the Navy to design, develop and test a solar/PEM regenerative system. We are also pleased to be working jointly with Northern Power on this endeavor. This project will be a demonstration of a truly sustainable energy system. In the near term, it could solve the vexing challenge of providing electrical power to remote locations and ultimately has the potential to reduce our dependence upon imported oil and increase homeland security.”

Proton Energy Systems, Inc. ( http://www.protonenergy.com ) designs, develops and manufactures Proton Exchange Membrane, or PEM, electrochemical products that it employs in hydrogen generating devices and in regenerative fuel cell systems that function as power generating and energy storage devices.