Protonex Contracts With Cummins To Supply Diesel-Fueled SOFC Power Systems

September 26, 2007 by Jeff Shepard

Protonex Technology Corp. announced that it has received a $1.2 million subcontract from Cummins Power Generation, a business group of Cummins Inc., to supply solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) power systems for integration into a demonstration system for commercial mobile applications. Cummins was awarded the program by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a diesel-fueled SOFC system for on-highway truck auxiliary power.

Cooperation with Cummins on this program is said to represent a significant milestone in efforts by Protonex to gain greater access to commercial markets with its SOFC products. With sales of $11.4 billion in 2006, Cummins serves customers in more than 160 countries through its network of 550 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 5,000 dealer locations.

Integrating SOFC auxiliary power systems in over the road trucks will allow a significant reduction in main engine idle operation and result in greater fuel savings and lower emissions than what is possible with current technologies. The SOFC power system will supply base power for air conditioning, heating, lighting and other loads. According to the company, fuel cells can offer higher efficiencies and significantly lower emissions than typical small auxiliary power systems that utilize internal combustion engines.

Running fuel cell systems on common organic fuels, such as propane, gasoline and diesel, enables the deployment of fuel cell power products into commercial markets without requiring access to hydrogen or other specialty fuel sources. This is said to provide these markets with the benefits of fuel cell technology, including improved efficiency, nearly silent operation, lower weight and reduced environmental impact, while allowing the use of current fueling infrastructures. Fuel cell systems process fuels electrochemically rather than burning them, so they produce fewer harmful emissions than internal combustion engines.

According to Richard Eikill, GM of Consumer Business, Cummins Power Generation, "Fuel cells have significant potential to provide our customers with improved auxiliary power performance. Protonex develops fuel cell technology that can operate on diesel and other conventional fuels that are well supported in our target markets, making them an ideal team member in this venture. Cummins is committed to continuing to meet the needs of our customers by integrating evolving technologies onto our power systems."

"We are very proud to have been chosen by Cummins to supply our solid oxide fuel cell products for this program," said Scott Pearson, CEO, Protonex. "Teaming with a global power industry leader on this development program will have a significant impact on our SOFC commercialization program, and we hope this effort will open the door to continued collaboration."