New Industry Products

Next-Generation Fuel Cell System Addresses Telecom Backup Power Needs

June 16, 2013 by Jeff Shepard

Ballard Power Systems has announced the launch of the next-generation ElectraGenâ„¢-ME backup power system for use in the telecom market. The product is fuelled by methanol and features a number of enhancements that further improve reliability, durability as well as ease of maintenance and servicing, all important benefits for the growing number of telecom operators deploying these systems around the globe.

"Our product shipments for Telecom Backup Power have been growing rapidly since we added the methanol systems to our portfolio," said Tony Cochrane, Ballard Director - Product Management, Telecom Backup Power. "This new product will strengthen the value proposition for customers, with a higher reliability, lower cost solution."

Growth of Ballard's ElectraGen-ME methanol-fuelled Telecom Backup Power systems has been driven by two distinct needs: (i) backup power for regular, even daily, power outages in markets with unreliable electricity grids; (ii) backup power for markets with reliable grids yet vulnerable to extended power outages in crisis situations, such as extreme weather conditions. These needs underpin Ballard's growing shipment volumes to such markets as South Africa and Indonesia, where grids are unreliable, along with the Caribbean and Japan, where there is concern over potential weather- and tsunami-related events, respectively.

From a reliability perspective, the next-generation product offers a number of improvements, including: more than 25% increase in system mean time between failures (MTBF); 3x increase in cycle life through upgrades to the fuel processor module.

Durability has also been extended through the increased use of corrosion-resistant coatings on many system components as well as improvements to the fuel level sensor and fluid flow paths. Finally, servicing and maintenance have been made easier through added functionality in system firmware, along with better component access and labeling.

Ballard's ElectraGen-ME systems are particularly well suited for 'extended runtime' backup power needs and offer proven financial and environmental advantages in comparison to batteries and diesel generators. These methanol-fuelled systems include a fuel reformer that converts HydroPlusâ„¢ (a methanol-water liquid fuel mixture) into hydrogen gas to power the fuel cell. Methanol is a widely available fuel around the globe.