As indicated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the largest consumer of petroleum in the U.S. is the transportation sector, and about 75% of that consumption is for fueling cars, trucks and buses. In order to reduce our dependence on oil and reduce emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases, the DOE is working to develop fuel cells as clean and efficient alternative power sources for transportation through its Fuel Cell Technologies Program.
Ballard Power Systems, a Canadian company that also has facilities in the U.S., has been developing hydrogen fuel cells for over 20 years, for generating stationary power as well as for transportation. As reported in the International Business Times, in March, 2010, Ballard Power Systems secured a four-year $6.2 million project funded by the DOE. And Ballard Material Products, a U.S. subsidiary of Ballard was granted $4.1 million as prime contractor to work on improvements in fuel cell durability and cost, which are key factors in bringing fuel cell systems to market more quickly. Ballard will be working with the Institute for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Research at Los Alamos National Laboratory among other research and technology organizations in the U.S.
In addition to working on government-funded projects, there is commercial demand for Ballard’s fuel cells. Green Business reported in March 2010 that Ballard Power Systems had entered into contracts to supply fuel cell modules for two transit buses at SunLine Transit Agency in Thousand Oaks, California. Ballard reported that these buses are in addition to twenty buses currently operating with the company’s fuel cells in Whistler, British Columbia and buses scheduled for delivery in 2010 to London, Cologne, and Amsterdam in Europe.
Clean Technology Business Review reported in July 2010 that Ballard had extended its fuel cell supply agreement with Plug Power through 2014. Ballard supplies fuel cell stacks that are used in Plug Power’s GenDrive electric material handling equipment such as forklifts. According to Plug Power’s CEO, the company has worked with Ballard over the lifetime of the GenDrive products and they have become the most reliable fuel cell equipment in the material handling industry, increasing productivity, lowering costs and reducing emissions.
In addition to fuel cells for vehicles, Ballard Power Systems provides fuel cells for generating electricity. In August 2010 the company announced on PR Newswire that it was shipping the world’s largest fuel cell to Eastlake, Ohio, where it will be used by FirstEnergy Generation Corp., an Ohio utility company, to generate electricity. The fuel cell, which is the size of a tractor trailer, will be used in a CLEARgen generator based on Ballard’s proton exchange membrane technology. The fuel cell system can generate up to one megawatt of electricity, which is enough to power 500 homes on its own, and will be used in peak demand periods such as during the summer, to ensure an uninterrupted power supply.
Ballard, Plug Power Extend Fuel Cell Supply Agreement Through 2014 – Clean Technology Business Review
Ballard Power Systems
Ballard Power Systems (BLDP) Secures Funding to Progress Non-Automotive Fuel Cell Commercialization – International Business Times
Ballard to Power Sunline Transit Agency buses – Green Business
Fuel Cells for Transportation – U.S. Department of Energy
World’s Largest Hydrogen Fuel Cell Generator Set to Deploy – PR Newswire