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Clean Hydrogen Partnership

Ammonia based, fuel cell power for off-grid cell phone towers


Topic SP1-JTI-FCH.2009.3.6: Validation of integrated fuel cell system readiness


The technology of mobile telecommunications has reached a level of maturity in those industrial regions wherein a reliable electrical grid powers the mobile base station infrastructure. The absence of a grid in many global regions presents market needs for remote power units providing cleanly generated electricity more cost effectively than hitherto. A fuel cell based system is proposed which obviates the hydrogen fuel infrastructure problem by employing a novel solution based on anhydrous liquid ammonia. This is a widely available commodity. Thus, a novel catalytic cracker will convert the ammonia to hydrogen and this, in turn, will fuel a set of PEM fuel cells. By this means, an emissions free power source (PowerCube TM) has been developed. This now has the potential to be deployed and operated remotely providing electricity more cost effectively with considerations to cost of ownership and long term reliability. To this end, the consortium has the required profile to bring this technology to a position of systems readiness. The key objectives are as follows:

To demonstrate that a fully-integrated, turn-key power system (PowerCube TM) is technologically viable and can be readily manufactured to meet the cell phone operators’ targets of reliability, longevity and low-maintenance. The benchmark in this respect is the polluting diesel generator technology which is unreliable and requires high maintenance with theft and adulteration of diesel fuel being widespread. The development targets have been set against the most likely customer specific systems performance requirements.

A further key project objective is to deploy several power systems (PowerCubes TM) as customer acceptance trial units in multiple sites across several climate zones and principally in sub-Sahara Africa. This will follow the development and field evaluation of a refuelling, maintenance and repair infrastructure. The latter will further benefit from a remote monitoring and control system which will be developed and will enable predictive maintenance.