Solar Powered Fuel Cell

Brian Hicks

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted August 10, 2012

Embarking on a 32-month development project, Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) will work with the Office of Naval Research to design and build a solid oxide fuel cell generator set.

The set is intended to serve as an alternative to conventional power generation setups in war fields. The Lockheed Martin approach will seek to incorporate solar panels into the setup, The Sacramento Bee reports, enabling defense forces to draw required power while using less fuel.

The final product of this $3 million contract will be a multi-kilowatt, JP-8 compatible Fuel Cell Efficient Power Node, designed to cut down overall fuel consumption by at least 50 percent.

Lockheed Martin will showcase the outcome for evaluation by U.S. Marines.

Solid oxide fuel cells are vastly more efficient than diesel generators’ combustion systems – we’re talking 30-50 percent more efficiency. They use less fuel than conventional systems to generate the same quantities of power.

Currently, the U.S. employs more than 100,000 military-scale generators for things such as lighting, computing workstations, and command/control systems. By making the switch to these cells, defense forces can save enormous amounts in operational costs, not to mention improving safety by reducing fuel delivery missions.

From the Sacramento Bee:

“Lockheed Martin shares the U.S. Department of Defense’s top goals of increasing the safety of our troops and reducing operational costs,” said Dan Heller, vice president of new ventures for Lockheed Martin Mission Systems & Sensors. “Alternative energy solutions, such as the fuel cell we are developing for the Office of Naval Research, can help mitigate these challenges, advancing the strength and flexibility of our military operating in some of the world’s toughest conditions.”

Cleveland-based fuel cell company TMI will also work with Lockheed Martin on this project. Ohio Third Frontier, a state program that funds tech research, has also added funding to the team.

Prospects for a successful conclusion seem fairly decent, as Lockheed Martin successfully tested a solid oxide fuel cell generator set in 2011. The unit ran for more than 1,000 hours without any problems on standard-issue DoD JP-8 systems. Lockheed Martin is the only company to have achieved this.

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