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Design and Development of a 5 kW Tactical Fuel Cell Generator for Military Applications


The University of Maryland (UMD) and Ballard Power Systems have been teaming together to develop a prototype 5 kW PEM fuel cell generator that will run on military logistic fuels. The prototype unit is based upon Ballard’s leading PEM fuel cell stack technology and on fuel processing system developed by Ballard and UMD in conjunction with industrial partners who are fabricating the fuel reformer and H2 membrane reactor to provide pure H2 to the PEM fuel cell. The collaborative design and development work utilizes simulation tools and the Ballard-supplied test facility at UMD. Early simulations of the preferred generator design show that operation on JP-8 fuel with necessary fuel processing and internal water management will allow for efficiencies approaching 30% over the 5 kW power range. Such efficiencies are superior to forward-looking diesel generators being developed for the military in the same size range. Additionally, this effort will include development of system level control software relying in part on simulation tools developed by the UMD team. At completion of this proposed effort, UMD and Ballard will have assembled, characterized, and delivered (to ARL) a first generation prototype of a 5 kW fuel cell generator running on a logistic fuel.

System layout of first generation 5 kW PEM fuel cell generator fueled by diesel and developed by Ballard/UMD team