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Staff Accomplishments

Keeping it clean with fuel cells

August 2006
Battelle powers the military with a cleaner and more efficiently used fuel Running a noisy, hot generator in a war zone can give away your position. Not running it, can leave you without power for communications, air conditioning, heat and other critical systems. Researchers at Battelle-Pacific Northwest Division are developing methods to enable use of existing military fuel for fuel cells, which operate silently and at increased efficiency. The reduced acoustic and thermal signature is a distinct benefit in military environments. Through the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineer Center (TARDEC), Battelle is developing a single system to convert military fuel (JP-8) into sufficient hydrogen to generate 10 kW of electrical power, enough energy to run critical air conditioning or communications systems for hours inside an armored vehicle. Poisonous sulfur
The military has long used logistics fuels. However, these fuels, such as jet fuel or diesel, contain sulfur that is poisonous to fuel cells. "Because the sulfur content of logistics fuels is damaging to both the fuel reforming catalyst and the fuel cell itself, one of the key technical challenges for fuel cell systems is the requirement to remove sulfur from the fuel prior to reforming to prevent system degradation," says Dale King, TARDEC project manager. Battelle's fuel cell power system operates by significantly reducing the level of sulfur in the fuel, then converting it to hydrogen in a Battelle-developed microchannel steam reformer. Reformation of battlefield fuels to hydrogen allows use of the fuel cell to generate electricity. This project leverages previous efforts internally funded by Battelle for micro-channel steam reforming of synthetic jet fuel, and by TARDEC for desulfurization technology research. Prototype fuel cell auxiliary power unit demonstrated
Battelle previously demonstrated the conversion of sulfur-free diesel for fuel cell power generation on an armored vehicle. Engineers at Battelle integrated and installed a fuel reformation and hydrogen purification system in a prototype fuel cell auxiliary power unit and operated the unit on sulfur-free synthetic jet fuel. Aside from military vehicles, this technology can be applied in many areas, where generation of electrical power is needed and small size and high performance are important. Contact: Dale King or Landis Kannberg, Battelle-Pacific Northwest Division

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