FirstEnergy, Ballard demonstrate 1 MW fuel cell system

Akron, Ohio, November 1, 2010 — FirstEnergy Corp. and Ballard Power Systems are testing an innovative utility-scale fuel cell system designed to produce 1 MW of electricity — enough to power more than 600 homes.

The demonstration is being conducted at the FirstEnergy Generation Corp. Eastlake Plant in Eastlake, Ohio.

Considered the world’s largest proton exchange membrane hydrogen-powered fuel cell, the 54-foot-long unit is mounted on a tractor-trailer for mobility and produces only heat and water as byproducts.

Over the next five years, the companies will test the performance of the system in real-world operating conditions to better understand its capability to provide generating capacity during peak usage periods in the months of May through September. In addition, the performance and operating data will be evaluated in collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute.

The system is comprised of nine fuel cell modules, a compressor compartment that provides air for the fuel cell reaction, an inverter compartment that converts the power from 640-volt direct current to 380-volt alternating current (AC), and a transformer to step up the voltage to 480-volt, three-phase AC power to the electrical system.

Ballard’s hydrogen-powered proton exchange membrane fuel cells combine hydrogen fuel and oxygen from the air to produce electrical energy efficiently, quietly and without combustion. The only byproducts of the process are heat and water.

Because it uses hydrogen as fuel, the system is considered renewable. FirstEnergy is a diversified energy company headquartered in Akron, Ohio. Its subsidiaries and affiliates are involved in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, as well as energy management and other energy-related services.

Ballard Power Systems, headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, designs and manufactures clean energy hydrogen fuel cell products enabling optimized power systems for a range of applications.

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