In a development that brings the promise of fuel cells one step closer to reality, Proton Energy Systems, Inc. announced the successful high-pressure test of its new HIPRESS Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) cell stack module.Walingford, Connecticut, January 28, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] Storing hydrogen efficiently at high pressures is a key feature in space-limited applications requiring higher energy densities such as automotive fuel cells, telecom backup power and aerospace applications. For some defense applications, the hydrogen and oxygen gases may be burned for high thrust propulsion or ionized for very high specific impulse electric propulsion. The test were conducted as part of a contract administered by the Naval Research Laboratory and funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The HIPRESS cell stacks passed the 1,000-hour mark of system operation at 2,000 pounds per square inch, or psi. The success of these tests is an important indication of the durability of the technology, which has the potential to be a critical component to a number of aerospace platforms being developed for military and homeland security purposes. Proton also demonstrated this same design at 3,000 psi over shorter time periods. The HIPRESS electrolysis cell stacks were tested in both the HOGEN 40 hydrogen generators and UNIGEN regenerative fuel cell units. During these tests, the HOGEN 40 hydrogen generators produced high-pressure gaseous hydrogen and oxygen from water without the use of mechanical compression. Proton’s UNIGEN regenerative fuel cell produced hydrogen gas and oxygen and stored the gases until needed. The two gases then were reacted in the fuel cell to generate electrical power with the only emission being water. Proton’s Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Larry Sweet commented, “We are pleased to be working with our partners, DARPA and the Naval Research Laboratory on this important technology. We believe our high-pressure technology will allow our customers to compress hydrogen more efficiently than traditional mechanical compression under certain conditions. This solid state advancement also offers cost reduction potential and system simplification that can be applied to our current commercial industrial gas equipment as well as future automotive and backup power products.” Ultimately, Proton’s regenerative fuel cell systems, which are currently being developed, will combine Proton’s hydrogen generation technology with a fuel cell power generator to create an energy device that is able to produce and store the hydrogen fuel it can later use to generate electricity.