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DOE to Award $41.9M in Recovery Funds to Spur Growth of Fuel Cell Markets

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding $41.9 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to 13 projects to accelerate the commercialization and deployment of fuel cells and to create jobs in fuel cell manufacturing, installation, maintenance, and support services. Funded projects include stationary, portable and specialty vehicle applications. Total project funding of nearly $114.3 million will include approximately $72.4 million in cost-share funding from industry participants in addition to the Federal money.

The $41.9 million will support immediate deployment of nearly 1,000 fuel cell systems for emergency backup power and material handling applications (e.g., forklifts) that have emerged as key early markets in which fuel cells can compete with conventional power technologies. Additional systems will be used to accelerate the demonstration of stationary fuel cells for combined heat and power in the larger residential and commercial markets.

The increase in manufacturing volume in key early markets will also bring costs down and encourage the growth of a domestic supplier base. A variety of technologies will be developed and deployed, including polymer electrolyte, solid oxide and direct-methanol fuel cells.

Projects awarded funding are:

  • FedEx Freight East (Harrison, AR). This project will deploy 35 fuel cell systems as battery replacements for a complete fleet of electric lift trucks at FedEx’s existing service center in Springfield, Missouri. Success at this service center will lead to further fleet conversions at some or all of FedEx’s other 470 service centers. $1.3 million.

  • Jadoo Power (Folsom, CA). Jadoo, together with Acumentrics Corporation, NASCAR Media Group, Lynch Diversified Vehicles, California’s Police and Fire Departments of the City of Folsom, and Airgas, Inc., will establish the environmental and cost benefits of using a 1kW fuel cell power system to generate electricity, as opposed to traditional gas/diesel generators and lead-acid battery power sources. This demonstration will provide operating data from each field unit at customer sites, as well as degradation analysis and projected system lifetime. $1.8 million.

  • PolyFuel, Inc. (Mountain View, CA). The objective of this project is to further integrate and miniaturize the components of PolyFuel’s portable power system for use in mobile computing, and analyze failure modes to increase durability. Polyfuel will also conduct a design for manufacturability and assembly review to ensure that the systems meet the cost targets for commercialization. $2.5 million.

  • Anheuser-Busch (St. Louis, MO). Anheuser-Busch will deploy 23 fuel cell systems as battery replacements for a complete fleet of electric lift trucks at their facility in Fort Collins, Colorado, demonstrating the economic benefits of large fleet conversions of forklifts from lead-acid batteries to fuel cell power units. Success in this project will lead to further fleet conversions at some or all of Anheuser-Busch’s other 11 US facilities. $1.1 million.

  • Nuvera Fuel Cells (Billerica, MA). To accelerate market penetration of fuel cells, East Penn Manufacturing (an industrial and automotive battery manufacturer) and Nuvera will deploy 10 fuel cell forklifts in East Penn’s facility in Topton, PA. Fuel will be supplied by Nuvera’s natural gas reformer, storage, and dispensing system. $1.1 million.

  • Delphi Automotive (Troy, MI). Delphi will develop, test and demonstrate a 3- to 5-kW solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) auxiliary power unit (APU) for heavy duty commercial class 8 trucks. The demonstration will improve upon Delphi’s current generation SOFC technology by increasing net output power and fuel processing efficiency, decreasing heat loss and parasitic power loss, and establishing diesel fuel compatibility. $2.4 million.

  • MTI MicroFuel Cells (Albany, NY). To accelerate fuel cell use in consumer markets, MTI will demonstrate a one-watt consumer electronics power pack. The project will focus on improving reliability to meet the standards required by the electronics market and will include testing of individual components, subsystems and complete direct methanol fuel cell systems. MTI will also develop manufacturing processes to improve product yields and reduce overall costs. $2.4 million.

  • Plug Power, Inc. (Latham, NY). This demonstration project will validate the durability of Plug Power’s 5-kW stationary combined heat and power fuel cell system and verify its commercial readiness. Plug Power will carry out a three-year project to test its units in residential and light commercial applications in California. $3.4 million.

  • Plug Power Inc. (Latham, NY). This project will demonstrate the market viability of the GenCore rack-mounted fuel cell product that provides clean and highly reliable emergency backup power. Plug Power will install and operate new systems in real-world applications at geographically-diverse sites, providing for as much as 275 kW of backup power. $2.7 million.

  • GENCO (Pittsburgh, PA). This project will deploy 156 fuel cell systems as battery replacements for fleets of electric lift trucks at six of GENCO’s existing distribution centers (South Carolina, Pennsylvania - 3 locations, and Ohio - 2 locations). Success at these distribution centers will lead to further fleet conversions at some or all of GENCO’s other 109 distribution centers. $6.1 million (six awards).

  • Sysco of Houston (West Houston, TX).Sysco will deploy 90 fuel cell systems as battery replacements for a fleet of pallet trucks at Sysco’s new distribution center in Houston, Texas, due to open in August 2009. This installation will be the first ever green field installation in the world without battery infrastructure for a pallet truck fleet. Success at this distribution center will lead to further fleet conversions at some or all of Sysco’s other 169 distribution centers. $1.2 million.

  • Sprint Communications (Reston, VA). Sprint Nextel will demonstrate the viability of packaged 1kW to 10kW fuel cell systems with 72 hours of on-site fuel storage for backup power to communication infrastructure used by state and local first responders and by public safety answering points (911 centers). Sprint will address siting and permitting issues, and will benchmark the lifecycle costs, performance, and operational characteristics against the incumbent technologies (batteries, generators, and diesel fuel). $7.3 million.

  • ReliOn Inc. (Spokane, WA). ReliOn will add reliability to a utility communications network where no backup power was previously available at 25 sites throughout central and northern California. They will deploy 180 fuel cells with a new refillable 72-hour fuel system to locations across the AT&T Mobility Network. This project will provide DOE with installation, fueling logistics, and operating data for fuel cells in voice and data communications networks in mountain, desert, and urban locations. $8.6 million (two awards).



Governmnt waste at its finest.

Only four or these projects go to fuel cell buiders. Only one, Delphi, actually goes to improve a possiblel fuel cell improvment. We know that the present fuel cells are wildly uneconomic, and need breakthroughs in cost to manufacure and need fundamently diffrent architectures than PEM archtectures, to do that.

Its like to trying to design the Volt or PHEV Prius or Tesla BEV with Lead-acid batteries.

So the gioverment is giving a bunch of companies "free greenwash" to install what we know beforehand to be uneconomic demonstrations to build fundamently unready fuel cells applications. After the money runs out, and the photo-shoots for the covers of Annual Reports are done showing the "greenwash", we will never hear from any of this again.

Wouldn't it just be easier to build a bonfire and burn the money?


Whoa ExDemo. Stationary fuel cells that produce heat and electricity in the home market are more than 95% efficient at utilizing natural gas. Compare that to your local energy producer at about 70% efficient. Then they waste 30% of the electricity they produce in transmission lines. Make the electricity yourself at home, use the excess heat to warm your house and hot water and you cut out the big wasteful power plants and big wasteful energy monopolies. what's more, you improve national security because an enemy can't shut us down by taking out the grid. In 2003 a small blip in one Ohio power station shut down the entire East Coast.

With mass production, a home fuel cell wouldn't cost more than your furnace, air, water heater appliances do now. And, bonus, you would be grid independent, make half as much carbon, and be less vulnerable. Now that's smart!


The bad guys may not shut down the electric grid if we all make our own juice but will instead focus on shutting down the natural gas pipelines that supply all those fuel cells.


Actually high temperature fuel cells for stationary applications have been in operation for more than 10 years. One of the suppliers of such fuel cells is United Technologies in Connecticut. Japanese utilities are using these in a number of cities. They can be centrally located thus reducing transmission losses.

Incidentally transmission line losses are nowhere near 30% for a properly designed system.

Some people have a visceral reaction to anything having to do with fuel cell technology. Unfortunately such emotional biases clouds the rational thinking process.


The city of Santa Clara, California runs its own utility and did a 2mw Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell at one of their power plants more than 20 years ago. It was ahead of its time, but gave them some good data.


Very obvious places for fuel cells to start to do thier thing.

Lift trucks specialy with newer worker safety standards.. a massive cost savings and a far better product.

Backup power.. a hugmoungous market that has been foaming at the mouth for a better gizmo and the fuelcell is definetly it.

Apus... so obvious an in for fuel cells its useless to even try and whine about it.

Little itty bitty long lasting power units... the duhest of DUH!!!!!!!!!! obvious apps for fuel cells in the history of DUH.

Heat and power units.. soo THERE its not gona be discussed. Solid oxide simply is it.

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