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Fuel Cells



Fuel Cells

                                            FUEL CELLS   01

Fuel Cells

Technology for Today’s                                       fuel cell Technology
business                                                     in basic terms a fuel cell is simply        Although there is still much more
often thought of as ‘science in                              an alternative method of generating         work to be done to replace existing
development’ and ‘future technology’                         electricity without the need for either     technologies with fuel cells for
today’s fuel cells are very much a                           combustion or the use of mechanical         power generation, the technology is
viable and current technology able                           ‘electromagnetic’ methods such as           available today for many commercial
to play a key role in providing a clean                      turbines to create power.                   and domestic applications. With the
emissions-free solution to the many                          Fuel cells create electricity by            search for clean power being driven
different power requirements                                 electrochemical energy conversion           by climate change, research into fuel
in today’s business environment.                             generating heat and pure water or,          cell technology has escalated and
Using multiple types of fuel cell                            with some fuels, exceptionally low levels   although some companies have still
technology and design, fuel cells                            of CO2 and other by-products, when          to bring their products to market, there
can provide power solutions from                             compared to traditional combustive          is a real choice of fuel cells available
prime high-load systems for buildings                        methods of power production.                today for commercial applications.
and larger complexes, to lower                                                                           Several countries, notably Germany
                                                             The basic principle of fuel cell
demand independent systems with                                                                          and Canada, as well as the State of
                                                             technology is not actually ‘new‘ as it
long-run times, reducing the need for                                                                    California, are investing heavily in fuel
                                                             was first demonstrated by Sir William
constant refuelling and maintenance                                                                      cell research and development, and
                                                             Grove in 1839 but did not gain any real
for applications such as remote                                                                          actively encourage and support the
                                                             attention from the scientific community
monitoring, telemetry and CCTV.                                                                          use of this technology.
                                                             until their deployment and subsequent
                                                             use for the NASA Gemini programme in        In fact today, fuel cells suit a vast
                                                             the 1950s and Apollo space programme        range of uses, powering everything
                                                             in the 1960s.                               from laptop computers and telephony
                                                                                                         equipment, to providing combined
                                                             Since that time the pressure on finding
                                                                                                         heat and power systems for entire
                                                             alternative low-emission sources of
                                                                                                         buildings and complexes.
                                                             power has escalated, being driven
                                                             primarily by the automotive industry.
                                                             Fuel cell cars are now becoming a
                                                             mainstream reality as Honda launch
       Sir William Grove’s original fuel cell                the new Clarity, with many other
       design from 1839
                                                             manufacturers soon to follow with their
                                                             own models.

                                                                                                             Gemini capsule

                                       Fuel cell powered Honda Clarity


uPs systems and Fuel Cells

experTs in fuel cell
ups systems have been taking an              UPS Systems also plays an active part
active interest in fuel cell technology      in the continued promotion of fuel cells
since 2002, looking at cleaner ways of       being used in industry and businesses
producing power within their standby         across the UK. They contribute to many
power offerings.                             fuel cell associations such as the
In early 2006 UPS Systems completed          London Hydrogen Partnership and UK
the installation of the first AC 3-phase     Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association.
10kW fuel cell in the UK at their head       UPS Systems have hosted their own fuel
office in West Berkshire as back-up          cell seminar, bringing together both
power for its IT systems, server room,       manufacturers of fuel cells and potential
and other communications equipment.          end users from all types of business
Since that time, UPS Systems have been       from the MOD to private companies.
actively involved in the specification       UPS Systems supplies and integrates
and supply of fuel cells for many            fuel cells and associated equipment
different types of application. They         sourced from many manufacturers
installed the first commercial fuel cell     around the world. With over fifty fuel cell
system for standby power in the UK           systems installed, the ability to provide
protecting the servers and IT systems        free consultative and unbiased advice,
of a managed futures and hedge fund          supplying the right products to the
company in Central London.                   needs of their clients, is unmatched.
Numerous projects have followed,
including installations for the University
of Glamorgan, the Environmental
Energy Technology Centre in Rotherham,
Welsh Water, RWE nPower Renewables
and other utility companies.
experTs in fuel cell

                                                                                                  FUEL CELLS   03

                                 HOw a Fuel Cell wORks

                                 There are many different types of                   membrane forcing the electrons to
                                 fuel cell technologies adopted today,               flow through an external electrical
                                 each having their own characteristics               circuit to the cathode side where they
                                 and each being suited to differing                  then combine with the hydrogen ions
                                 applications.                                       and oxygen to form water. This flow of
                                 The basic principles of any fuel cell are           electrons creates the electrical current
                                 essentially the same, with all fuel cells           or power from the fuel cell.
                                 using an electrochemical reaction to                anode Reaction: 2H2 => 4H+ + 4e-
                                 split hydrogen gas molecules (H2) to                Cathode Reaction: O2 + 4H+ + 4e- => 2H2O
                                 form hydrogen ions and electrons.                   Overall Cell Reaction: 2H2 + O2 => 2H2O
                                 A fuel ‘cell’ essentially consists of               Each individual fuel ‘cell’ produces only
                                 two plates (the anode and cathode)                  a small amount of power, each cell’s
                                 separated by an ‘ion-conducting’                    output differing dependent on their
                                 electrolyte which can come in many                  design and size. To provide the higher
                                 different forms.                                    levels of power output required from
                                 A fuel (the simplest form being                     a fuel cell system for practical use,
                                 hydrogen) is passed across the anode                the cells are then combined to form
                                 where it is split by a catalytic reaction           a fuel cell “stack” the size of which
                                 into hydrogen ions (H+) and electrons.              is dependent on its manufacture
                                 Simultaneously an oxygen source                     and requirements.
                                 (usually either air or pure oxygen)                 The systems available on the market
                                 is passed across the cathode side                   today are more correctly termed as
                                 of the cell.                                        fuel cell systems as they comprise all
                                 As the fuel cell’s electrolyte layer                the cells in a ‘stack’ plus the electronic
                                 is designed only to allow a flow of                 controls required to meter the fuel and
                                 hydrogen ions through it from anode                 oxygen, and control the process.
                                 to cathode, these flow across the

                                             hydrogen                air
                                                gas               (oxygen)

                             1                                                   3     a siMple peM fuel cell
                                                                                     1. Hydrogen fuel is channelled to the anode on
                                                                                        one side of the fuel cell while oxygen from the
                                                                                        air is channeled to the cathode on the other
                                                                                        side of the cell.
                             2                                                       2. At the anode, a platinum catalyst causes
                                                                                        the hydrogren to split into positively charged
                                                                                        hydrogen ions (protons) and negatively
                                                                                        charged electrons.
                                                                                     3. The proton exchange membrane (PEM)
                                                                                        allows hydrogen ions to pass through to the
                                                                                        cathode. The electrons must travel along an
                                  unused                  water                         external circuit to the cathode, creating an
                                 hydrogen                                               electrical current.
                                                                                     4. At the cathode, the electrons and protons
                                            anode   cathode                             combine with oxygen to form water, which
                                                                                        flows out of the cell.
                                    Proton Exchange Membrane



diFFeRing Fuel Cell teCHnOlOgies

fuel cells offer a wide choice of          1. high TeMperaTure                         2. low TeMperaTure
power outputs dependent on the                Technologies                                Technologies
system chosen.                             n Solid Oxide Fuel cell (SOFC)              n Alkaline fuel cell (AFC)
These vary from smaller portable fuel        – operating at 500-1000oC                   – operating around 80oC
cells which produce low power outputs      n Molten carbonate fuel cell (MCFC)         n Direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC)
from 1W to 150W running on gaseous           – operating at 600-650oC                    – operating around 70oC
hydrogen or methanol, to standby           n Phosphoric Acid fuel cell (PAFC)          n Proton exchange membrane fuel cell
power units from 10kW to 100kW               – operating at 150-200oC                    (PEM) – operating around 75oC
running on hydrogen through to prime
                                           These fuel cells have long start-up times   These fuel cells have rapid start-up
power 250kW+ units mainly fuelled by
                                           and are generally higher power units        but produce little in the way of usable
natural gas, with alternative sources
                                           from 200kW upwards. As such they are        heat. They are generally of lower power
of methane such as biogas now
                                           best suited to continuous use.              output (up to 20kW) and are ideal for
becoming available.
                                           Even though fuel cells in general are       standby and low-power, long runtime,
Today’s fuel cell development                                                          prime power applications.
                                           considerably more fuel efficient than
continues apace with new technologies
                                           other forms of power production, use
appearing on a regular basis. In terms                                                 Fuel cell technologies are continuing
                                           of the high-grade heat produced by
of those systems which could be                                                        to develop, but whilst they share the
                                           these types of fuel cell for combined
deemed commercially available, there                                                   fundamentals and the technology
                                           heat and power (CHP) or cooling
are several variants all of which can be                                               adopted within them, their differing
                                           via absorption chillers, can increase
chosen, dependent on the requirement                                                   power outputs make each one suitable
                                           efficiency further by up to 85% in total.
of the user.                                                                           for differing applications.
                                                                                       In summary fuel cells generally offer
                                                                                       the following benefits to the end user:
                                                                                       n High electrical production efficiency
                                                                                         compared with other forms of
                                                                                         power generation
                                                                                       n The use of high grade heat where
                                                                                         available can improve efficiency
                                                   Portable Hydrogen Fuel Cell           even further
Large scale fuel cell CHP installation                                                 n Local power production eliminates
                                                                                         transmission wastage
                                                                                       n Low emissions
                                                                                       n Quiet – comparatively but especially
                                                                                         for lower powered units
                                                                                       n Controlled power production with no
                                                                                         direct combustion

                                                                                            Portable DMFC fuel cells

                                                                                                                         FUEL CELLS   05

Fuel Cells, Clean POweR
and Renewable eneRgy
alTernaTiVe energy                          fuel cells & renewables
pressure continues on every business        whilst fuel cells are a very low emissions   Renewable energy sources can also
to reduce the use of carbon by              solution to producing power, the fuel        be integrated into other fuel cell
more efficient production of power          sources such as hydrogen are, for            systems which incorporate batteries as
and finding alternative methods of          the main part, produced either as            an energy store, such as the fuel cells
generating power.                           a by-product of chemical processes or        which have been incorporated into the
Alongside this there is a continued         more often by the reforming of natural       Elan Valley Reservoir project.
drive to improve the efficient use of       gas or anaerobic digester gas (biogas)       When either wind or solar power are
this power, both on a commercial and        produced from waste products.                available, this source of renewable
domestic level.                             However many green alternatives for          energy can be used to charge
Much research has been done over            producing hydrogen are now being             batteries which are connected to,
the last few years in finding ways to       investigated. These include producing        and power, the required load. When
generate cleaner electricity in the form    ‘natural’ hydrogen through biological        sufficient light or wind is not available,
of wind farms and hydro electricity, as     degradation of waste (‘Biohydrogen’)         a small fuel cell can then be used to
well as harnessing the power of wave        as well as more commonplace                  recharge the batteries.
and tidal action.                           methods such as using the electricity        For low power applications such as
                                            generated from both solar and                remote monitoring or powering remote
Fuel cells have also been a key focus
                                            wind to power hydrogen-generating            security or telecommunications systems,
of research in this area as, in the main,
                                            electrolysers. Good examples of this         this can provide an exceptionally
they are emissions-free, as well as being
                                            technology include the projects that         low-maintenance, reliable and long-
much more efficient than standard
                                            UPS Systems have been involved with          running system, with less need for
generating methods, particularly when
                                            at the Enviromental Energy Technology        regular refuelling or servicing.
used in combined heat and power
                                            Centre ‘EETC’ in Rotherham and at the
systems (CHP).
                                            Baglan Energy Centre at the University
                                            of Glamorgan.


eXamPles OF Fuel Cell
                                                                                      low power
There are many potential applications                                                 Hydrogen and methanol fuel cell systems
for today’s commercially available                                                    are available for both short-term and
fuel cells from portable short-term                                                   long runtime power applications.
immediate power generation to the                                                     With runtimes varying from hours to
long-term powering of large datacentres,                                              months, dependent on unit and fuel
office complexes or complete estates                                                  type, these can be used to power
and campuses.                                                                         many of today’s high-output but low
Each application has different                                                        power consumption items such as
requirements, and there is often a fuel                                               LED lighting, hand tools, chargers
cell solution to match, whether a stand                                               and stationary or mobile CCTV systems,
alone system or one which is integrated                                               remote monitoring systems and
into an overall power solution.                                                       traffic signalling. low power

                                                                                      ups sysTeMs
                                                                                      C ase Study
                                           low power fuel cells
                                           UPS Systems has installed over twenty      The low power requirement of the
                                           25W Direct Methanol Fuel Cells (DMFC)      project (3W) and consequential
                                           for use by Severn Trent Water to power     long run-time of the DMFC, of over
                                           remote monitoring equipment along          300 days on one 28 litre fuel cartridge,
                                           the Elan Valley Reservoir Aqueduct,        makes them a very practical power
                                           where mains power was unavailable          source as maintenance visits and
                                           and uneconomical to install. As the        resulting man hours required for
                                           Elan Valley is an environmentally          maintenance are minimal.
                                           sensitive area the DMFC’s were an          These fuel cells have also been used
                                           ideal solution to provide power as         in similar applications to supply power
                                           they are almost silent in operation and    to wind monitoring equipment for RWE
                                           practically emissions-free and so have     nPower Renewables and monitoring
                                           no impact on the peace or quality of the   and security equipment for Welsh Water.
                                           surrounding area.

                                                                                                                   FUEL CELLS   07

                             sTandby power
                             for back-up power in the iT environment       cable runs and the space needed to
                             or as standby power for covering              house a traditional generator.
                             essential systems in office, residential      In the power range from 1kW through
                             and telecommunications applications,          to 100kW, the majority of these
                             fuel cells can be an emissions-free,          systems will use hydrogen supplied by
                             almost silent running solution, when          cylinders and will be combined with an
                             compared to traditional petrol, diesel        uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to
                             or gas generators.                            bridge the time period between power
                             Another benefit of having a locally sited     outage and the start-up of the fuel cell
                             fuel cell to generate standby power, is       to full power output.
                             that it eliminates the need for high cost

                                                                           ups sysTeMs
                                                                           C ase Study
                             sTandby power
                             UPS Systems installed the UK’s first          A similar system has also been
                             AC fuel cell standby power system to          installed by UPS Systems in an inner-
                             protect their own office IT servers and       London Mews office location where
                             services to allow seamless power and          building planning, structural and noise
                             continuity of service to their customers.     issues prevented the installation of
                             This 12kW 3-phase zero-emissions              a standard generator. The resulting
                             system was chosen for its compact             installation comprised of a fuel cell
                             design, and the fuel cell’s practically       system installed inside the office server
                             silent operation allowed it to be installed   room with the creation of an external
                             within UPS Systems offices. The unit is       hydrogen cylinder store to take care of
                             fuelled by Hydrogen from an outside           the fuel supply.
                             on-site cylinder store and is linked to a
                             bridging on-line UPS to negate any loss
                             of supply while the fuel cell takes up
                             the load during power outages.


priMe power
prime power fuel cell applications          In the power range from 250KW through
are more substantial systems and            to 1MW+ systems, the true benefits
will often use reformed natural or          of these installations are seen when
other forms of methane gas (such as         combined to maximise their efficiency
biogas) for their fuel supply.              through the use of the high grade heat
Taking hours as opposed to minutes          they provide for combined heat and
to reach full operating capacity these      power applications (CHP) and cooling
systems are ideal for continuous            via the integration of absorption chillers.
running. Applications include power for
any large scale system such as data
centres and hospitals.

                                            ups sysTeMs
                                            C ase Study
hybrid priMe power
UPS Systems has installed a fuel cell       This installation will demonstrate the
within the Renewable Hydrogen               viability of hydrogen production from a
Research and Demonstration Centre           range of indigenous renewable energy
at Baglan Energy Park, South Wales.         sources, such as solar and wind power
Initiated with EU funding, the new centre   using an electrolyser to demonstrate
has long-term funding guaranteed by         hydrogen production.
the University of Glamorgan.                Once compressed and stored, the
                                            hydrogen will then supply the 10kW
                                            fuel cell which will, in turn, power parts
                                            of the centre and associated facilities.
                   Baglan Energy Park       UPS Systems has supplied and installed
                                            the 10kW fuel cell and inverters for the
                                            project, and designed the bespoke
                                            controller unit, with supervisory software,
                                            that manages the system.

                                               10 Kw modular fuel cell

                                                                                FUEL CELLS   09

Fuel Cell sOlutiOns FOR
eVeRy aPPliCatiOn

                                                                                                                   10kw - 60kw
                                                                                                 1kw & 2kw
                                                                                      0w - 1kw

fuel used
Methanol                                                                               •
Hydrogen                                                                                           •         •       •
Natural Gas / ADG                                                                                                                 •
fuel cell locaTion
Within office environment                                                              •           •         •       •
Computer room - rack-mounted                                                                                         •
External housing                                                                       •           •         •       •            •
Off-grid location                                                                      •
sTaTionary or porTable power
Stationary                                                                             •           •         •       •            •
Portable system                                                                        •           •
Standby Power                                                                          •           •         •       •
Standby Power (with UPS or inverter)                                                               •         •       •
Prime power operation (24/7)                                                                                                      •
Renewable energy, on-site H2 generation                                                                              •            •
Off-grid telemetry or CCTV                                                             •
Portable signage                                                                       •
Highways signalling                                                                    •
Telecomunications                                                                                  •         •
Small computer room                                                                                          •
Medium/large server room                                                                                     •       •
Data Centre                                                                                                                       •
Prime power to large office/campus                                                                                                •
Combined heat and power (CHP)                                                                                                     •
Task lighting                                                                          •           •

power soluTions for                         independenT and iMparTial
eVery applicaTion                           UPS Systems works with many of the
Currently, UPS Systems supply all of the    world’s leading fuel cell manufacturers
fuel cell solutions identified within the   and is heavily involved in fuel cell
table above. It should be noted that        development projects within the UK
many of the fuel cells are of modular       and further afield, to ensure that a
design, and higher power outputs            constantly moving pipeline of new
can be achieved by combining two            products appear on the market.
or more units. However, if there is a       Being totally independent of any
requirement not shown here, please          manufacturer, UPS Systems provides
call the UPS Systems solutions team on      impartial and unbiased advice on the
01488 680 500 to discuss the technology     most appropriate fuel cell solution for
roadmap, and when it may satisfy            every application, whether for standby
your requirements.                          or prime power.
                                            Their extensive experience in fuel cell
                                            installations enables the UPS Systems
                                            team to match the individual features
                                            and specifications of any fuel cell
                                            system to their customer’s needs.


The comprehensive remote monitoring
solution for Fuel Cells and all integrated
power systems such as UPS and generators.
- 24 hour, 365 days a year monitoring      - REMO® uses a local-server independent
- Immediate notification of any alarm        system which continues to monitor
  conditions via email and/or text           your equipment, even when local IT
                                             systems are not operational
- Alerts provided to individual or
  multiple recipients                      - GSM phone connection for remotely
                                             located equipment
- Access REMO® live on-line anytime, for
  the very latest reports on your system   - Comprehensive management by our
                                             dedicated customer service team
- Check fuel cell and generator fuel
  level status by texting REMO® anytime     Complete peace of mind for the
                                            systems, IT or facilities manager.
- Fully customised systems report
  provided on a monthly basis, or log
  on anytime using REMO® live

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                                                                                      my system?”
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                                                                                     for the latest report.

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                                                                                      monitored standby power?”
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                                                                                                          FUEL CELLS   011
         ups sysTeMs
         ups systems plc is the largest
         manufacturer-independent supplier
         of standby power solutions in the uk.
         With the widest range of fuel cells,
         UPS and generator products available
         UPS Systems can offer completely
         impartial advice and provide solutions
         that are carefully tailored to precisely
         meet continuous power requirements.
         UPS Systems is an expert in consultation,
         product specification, selection,
         sourcing and complete project
         management from brief to installation
         and commissioning.
         An extensive post-sales support
         service package can also be
         provided comprising of maintenance
         programmes, remote monitoring
         services for generators, UPS and fuel
         cell systems, health checks, repair
         services and battery replacements.

         ups sysTeMs plc
         Herongate, Hungerford, Berkshire RG17 0YU
         tel: +44 (0)1488 680500 fax: +44 (0)1488 686315

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