Fuel Cell Backup System Unveiled

A new fuel cell product stands to send some ripples through the portable power and battery back-up industry.

Aurora, Illinois – December 4, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] Coleman Powermate, an equipment manufacturer, introduced the AirGen fuel cell generator — a machine that converts two of the most abundant elements in the universe – hydrogen and oxygen – into electricity. While it sounds like science fiction, fuel cells have played a pivotal role in space exploration, distributed generation and now they are making their way into the marketplace. “The AirGen fuel cell generator marks the dawn of the Hydrogen Age,” said Gwen Wisler, president and CEO of First Alert/Powermate, Inc. “This is the first step toward introducing fuel cells into homes and businesses.” According to Ken Frank, senior research and development engineer, the AirGen fuel cell generator can also be used as a portable power source in addition to emergency backup power. “It automatically senses when utility power fails and acts as an uninterruptible power supply, keeping mission-critical computer and phone systems online,” said Frank. “It also acts as a surge protector, buffering expensive electronics from dangerous power spikes and regulating voltage.” Unlike battery backups, which last minutes, the AirGen fuel cell generator, powered by Ballard’s Nexa power module, generates up to 1,000 W of electricity as long as hydrogen gas is supplied. This is the world’s first commercial proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell generator for end-users. The UL- and CSA-approved AirGen fuel cell generator has a built-in power inverter built by SoftSwitching that converts the DC power produced by the fuel cell into usable AC power. To help encourage the use of this new technology, a US$1,000 manufacturer’s rebate is being offered in cooperation with the California Air Resources Board for the first 50 California industrial businesses that purchase the AirGen fuel cell generator. Access:

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