Hydrogen Fuel Cell Lit Up Shuttle Launch

NASA might not be looking ahead to launching anything new into space these days, but some innovative hydrogen fuel cell technology lit up operations on the ground at the 135th and final mission for the NASA Space Shuttle Program.

During the July 8 launch of the shuttle Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a fuel cell-powered mobile lighting system was used in place of a traditional diesel-fueled generator. The system was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) in conjunction with Boeing, and developed by Sandia National Laboratories in conjunction with industry partners.

hydrogen fuel cell powered mobile lighting, NASA, Sandia

image via Sandia National Laboratories

The fuel cell produced electricity for a power-saving Light Emitting Plasma lighting system and provided up to 2.5 kilowatts of auxiliary power, which allowed additional equipment (such as power tools, public address systems and security metal detectors) to be powered by the unit while the lights were running – all with zero emissions.

And lest you scoff at the futuristic potential of such earthbound tech, Lennie Klebanoff, Sandia’s project lead, would like you to know that this hydrogen fuel cell-powered mobile lighting system has potentially dramatic real-world potential. Mobile lighting is commonly used in the entertainment field, construction and airport applications, and according to Klebanoff, replacing just one diesel system with a hydrogen fuel cell-powered system would trim diesel use by 900 gallons per year.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

  • http://twitter.com/turbofroggy Matt Moreno

    Oh finally they get this figured out… The Shuttle launch we watched May 2010 they had the GD diesel stinking noisey generators cranked up so damn loud you couldn’t even hear the countdown out on the causeway.u00a0 They wouldn’t turn them off a even 5 minutes prior to the launch so people could hear the countdown due to “liability reasons”.u00a0 Just dumb, stinky, noisy and frustrating.