SwRI completes a year-long residential fuel cell study

Cells meet expectations of 90% availability

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) recently completed a year-long residential fuel cell demonstration program at Brooks City-Base in San Antonio. The objective of the program was to install, operate, maintain, monitor, and report fuel cell data to the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) of the U.S. Army corps of Engineers, who funded the project.

During the program SwRI, along with the San Antonio public Service and a local community college, successfully demonstrated three 5kW proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells, which were fueled with hydrogen through natural gas reformers. The fuel cells supplemented the power to three individual housing units at the base that were grid connected. The PEM fuel cells cleanly and silently converted natural gas directly into electricity.

“One of our requirements was that the fuel cells attain 90% overall availability for a period of one year,” says Alan F. Montemayor, a principal engineer in SwRI’s engine, emissions, and vehicle research division. “We met that requirement on all three fuel cells, with availabilities of 91.6%, 93.9%, and 96.2%.”

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