An Air Force Research Laboratory project demonstrated its mission capability during a power outage at Joint Air and Naval Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH), Hawaii, Dec. 5.

A containerized hydrogen fuel cell back-up power solution commissioned by Hydrogenics Corporation, proved successful when it quickly engaged to replace power to its designated areas during the outage which affected the base for nearly 12 hours.

“The fuel cell system didn’t miss a beat, not even a single hertz,” said Mark Schultz, site manager for HydraFLX Systems, operator of the Hydrogen Station under a cooperative agreement with AFRL’s Advanced Power Technology Office (APTO).

The system was used to enable the continued operation of the Hickam Hydrogen Station, providing for the hydrogen fleet at JBPHH. This real world event proved to be a demonstration of the utility of Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology.

“The Hydrogenics fuel cell systems produced very high quality electrical power all night long – not a flicker, blip, dip or trip all night. No faults, warnings, nor any failures,” added Schultz. “We’re extremely pleased Hydrogenics backed up these proof-of concept trials. Our work resulted in a shining moment for fuel cells going toe-to-toe with our diesel counterparts.”

Hydrogen alternatives reduce the Air Force’s reliance on petroleum fuels for ground based vehicles and equipment through the adoption of alternative, renewable energy sources.

“If this had been a more serious crisis situation such as an earthquake or hurricane, in addition to demonstrating a fully off the grid Hydrogen Refueling Station, we would’ve also been filling the fuel cell vehicles as an emergency response fleet. We had enough fuel to power the station for 10 days and 10,000 road miles of equivalent hydrogen energy to the Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs).”

Hydrogenics fuel cell power modules are currently powering a number of FCVs, including buses that operate around the base.

“Events such as the outage at JBPHH help underscore the capabilities of hydrogen based power generation for critical applications,” said Daryl Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of Hydrogenics. “We salute the members of AFRL and HCATT for their forward thinking in applying this technology for the Hydrogen Station at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.” The fuel cell system project is an effort under AFRL’s Advanced Power Technology Office. The APTO program executes technology development and demonstration of alternative energy technologies on behalf of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Energy.