Avista Labs Fuel Cell Installed at FAA Site

June 09, 2003 by Jeff Shepard

Avista Labs, a wholly owned subsidiary of Avista Corp. (Spokane, WA), has completed the installation of a 3kW fuel cell system for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The fuel cell will provide critical backup power for a radio transmitter receiver (RTR) site located at McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma, WA. An April 17, 2003, commissioning ceremony initiated a one-year, intensive field test of the fuel cell's capabilities.

The installation consists of six Avista Labs Independence 500™ fuel cells housed in an outdoor enclosure designed by Avista Labs, which contains both the fuel cell system and the hydrogen fuel provided by Airgas. The objective of the installation is to test the ability of the fuel cell to respond to a primary power outage and continue to meet the needs of the load under various operating conditions.

The RTR site provides critical communication to area flight control towers for commercial airlines. In addition to providing backup power, the project involves starting the fuel cell three times daily in simulated outages to collect information concerning fuel cell reliability and performance. The goal of the installation is to meet or surpass 90% availability of fuel cell operation.