Pollution-free power becoming a reality



Alternative green energy resources are becoming a reality due to advances in fuel cell technology done by Cummins Power Generation. Xin Li, senior researcher in the fuel cell field who works with Cummins Power Generation, predicts that on the basis of current progress, Solid Oxide fuel-cell based mobile power products will be commercially available in as soon as 2 to 3 years and higher powered 100-kW stationary power units will become available in 7-10 years.

Fuel cell technology, the pollution-free electricity generation technology, which provides a green alternative to the combustion of gasoline and other fossil fuels, is anticipated to become the main source of energy to power electrical cars, trucks, buses and even homes.

Functioning similar to a battery, which uses electrochemical conversion, fuel cells produce electricity from fuel (on the anode side) and an oxidant (on the cathode side), which react in the presence of an electrolyte. Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC), which operate on a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, are more compatible with existing fuel infrastructures including natural gas and the only by-products are water vapor and a small amount of carbon dioxide.

In 2007 Cummins Power Generation was one of six industry teams involved in the Dept. of Energy Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) program to successfully complete the Phase One tests of the first Solid Oxide fuel cell prototypes. The resulting SOFC power system has the potential to seamlessly replace diesel-powered generator sets in many applications and can provide virtually silent power with significantly lower fuel consumption and exhaust emissions than existing generator sets.

The prototype unit tested for SECA produced 3 kW of electrical power while operating on natural gas and ran flawlessly for over 2,000 hours at Cummins Power Generation's test facility in Minneapolis; demonstrating an efficiency over 37%.

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