Hybrid/Solar Research Enters New Phase

Hybrid power systems combining a number of contemporary technologies are one of the possible answers to renewable energy intermittency limitations. A specific approach from a Connecticut-based company has won additional funding for a second round of testing.

Wallingford, Connecticut – May 4, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] Proton Energy Systems, landed a US$499,000 contract to continue development on its regenerative solar/Proton Exchange Membrane, or PEM, fuel cell demonstration system for the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division at China Lake, California. The Phase II contract builds on the success of the 1 kilowatt Phase I project and aims to upgrade the UNIGEN Regenerative Fuel Cell System, or URFC, to improve system efficiency and tolerance to extreme environments. The goal of the project is to demonstrate grid independent constant power output using inherently intermittent renewable energy for stable, remote operation. The system development and operational enhancements prepare the URFC system for a one year, 24/7 test period where the system will use solar energy to provide 12 kilowatt hours per day of power for hydrogen generation and electrical energy output. The system is sized to provide a minimum of 4,320 kWh over the 12-month period during which data will be collected for modeling and future system upgrades. The system does not require any battery storage for operation or start-up. The URFC demonstration unit, which was tested at the site for six months prior, consists of Proton’s HOGEN hydrogen generator, hydrogen storage tanks, a PEM fuel cell, and a Navy supplied solar photovoltaic array. The HOGEN hydrogen generator, a key component in this project, incorporates Proton’s patent-pending renewable interface, which is capable of producing hydrogen from water using electricity directly generated by the solar array. “This is a breakthrough program for Proton because it illustrates our vision of creating a sustainable energy economy by transforming solar power into hydrogen fuel,” Proton Energy Systems’ President Walter “Chip” Schroeder. “In this project, we use the fuel to regenerate power on demand. In other projects underway at Proton, we use the hydrogen as a transportation fuel.”
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