Ever wonder what the world’s largest hydrogen fuel cell looks like? Apparently, it’s the size of a tractor trailer, completely mobile, and possesses the capacity to power a small town. If you’re interested in catching a glimpse of this great green energy beast, it will soon be en route from its home in Burnaby, British Columbia, to Eastlake, Ohio for a five year trial run with a local utility company, the first ever deployment of its kind.
This test run is part of a deal between Ballard Power Systems and Ohio’s FirstEnergy Generation Corp, which will allow the U.S. utility to use this large hydrogen fuel cell generator, known as CLEARgen, to provide electricity for those within its service areas, taking strain off the power grid and ensuring uninterrupted power to customers during the summer when demand is highest. The CLEARgen system can generate up to one megawatt of power (enough to power 500 homes) by itself.
Powering homes isn’t all this hydrogen generator is good for. Currently, Ballard is using this technology as part of the K2 Pure Solutions at their bleach plant in California, where the CLEARgen system runs off by-product hydrogen from chemical plants to generate clean electricity for sale to the power grid or to power the plant. The system is based on Ballard’s proprietary proton exchange membrane (PEM) technology.
“It’s a huge leap forward and a significant first for Ballard,” said Michael Goldstein, Ballard’s Chief Commercial Officer, in a statement. “More importantly, we believe this deal helps ensure that fuel cell technology will be an integral part of the clean energy solution identified as a priority by President Obama.” Currently, Ballard’s fuel cells are also powering zero-emission bus fleets, providing backup power to cell phone companies in Canada and around the world, powering fleets of forklift trucks at major distribution centers.