EMERGENCY CONTACT: Fuel cells enable backup power

EMERGENCY CONTACT: Fuel cells enable backup power
BY MIRANDA VAGG/ snipped-for-privacy@gnnewspaper.com
Fuel cell technology provides efficient and clean energy.
The Fuel Cells for Emergency Communications program is a combination of efforts from the New York Power Authority and the New York State Police. The $434,000 program will be used to set up fuel cell technology enabling backup power at 22 public safety communications facilities, including one in Albion.
"These fuel cell installations will keep state communications on-line when they are often needed the most, during power outages and other emergency situations," said Timothy S. Carey, NYPA's president and chief executive officer in a statement released Thursday.
The implementation of hydrogen backup power for state communications facilities across New York will work to keep people informed during power failures.
The New York State Department of Transportation tower located in Albion is a communications tower utilized by both the State Police and DOT, said DOT Assistant Engineer Rich Lovelace.
The facility handles communications in Western New York and was disabled during the October snow emergency. The use of fuel cell backup power in the future would allow communications facilities to operate as normal in the event of a power outage.
"Part of it is they'll be able to generate electricity for the tower in the event of a power failure," Lovelace said.
The hydrogen fuel would be brought to the site in a container comparable to a propane tank, which is then hooked into a unit on the energy transmitter, converting hydrogen into energy, according to Lovelace.
Currently New York State is also working on building a statewide wireless communications network so state workers don't have to depend on Verizon, Cingular or other wireless providers, according to Lovelace. The network would allow for open communication between crews that would otherwise not be available if communication towers are disabled and left without a backup energy supply.
"It's been in the works for a while," Lovelace said. "I think a lot of people are going to do this throughout the country. (Hurricane) Katrina was a pretty good lesson learned."
The fuel cell technology that would be used to power the communications tower is a clean energy technology, according to Carey.
"The Power Authority has undertaken more than a dozen fuel cell projects, in various types of applications using different fuel sources, to demonstrate reductions in air pollution and the advantages of distributed power supply," he said.
Unlike traditional technologies, which can be "unpredictable, expensive to maintain and harmful to the environment," the fuel cells offer backup power without damaging the environment through emission, Carey stated.
Funding for the FC4EC program will be provided from Petroleum Overcharge Restitution funds. The money comes from proceeds of court settlements relating to oil company violations of federal price controls in the 1970s and 1980s.
Contact Miranda Vagg at (585) 798-1400, Ext. 2225. http://www.journal-register.com/local/local_story_002132013.html
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Buy Alternative Energy wrote:

"emergency communications" would have been a more appropriate subject header.

great, i feel so much safer that my tax dollars are being spent on experimental technology.
lets do some math. 434,0000 / 22 = 19,727 per site.
if outside contractors are used at least 10,000 will be instillation costs.
the 10K that's left doesn't leave much for generator. assume actual fuel cost is in operating budget.
at present i have a quote for a 130 KVA Katolite NG powered with 600 A transfer switch for $30K. (plus instillation)
to back up a typical small facility with 200 amp service something around 50 KVA is needed.
its not clear to me whether the intent is to power complete buildings or just some transmitters. the same amount of dollars would buy when heck of a lot of batteries.

and in all the previous hurricanes the lesson didn't take? how about 'don't build your house in a flood plane'?

and safe too. remember the Hindenburg?

and just how easy is it to get hydrogen as opposed to propane or natural gas?

so the oil companies have to pay the government for "overcharges" to the consumer in what is supposed to be a free economy.

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I don't think trucking fuel to a site in a tanker is "fuel cell technology". A fuel cell makes gas on the spot from other materials through varied processes. That is why the "cell" designation is on there. What you are talking about is an ordinary fuel TANK. Using hydrogen has gotten sexy with the advent of fuel cell technology, so people just naturally ooh, and ahh over it now.
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through
Huh?
A "typical" fuel cell has either hydrogen or a hydrocarbon on one side and air on the other side and produces electricity while releasing water vapor and CO2.
The OP didn't have much in the way of technical detail. If, however, a fuel cell bank replaced the storage battery of a UPS it might be cost effective when compared to the cost of storage batteries and the back up diesel generator.
It's always the details.
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