ONR contracts Lockheed to integrate fuel cells with solar panels

12 August 2012 (Last Updated August 12th, 2012 18:30)

The US Office of Naval Research has awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin to demonstrate and deliver a multi-kilowatt JP-8 compatible Fuel Cell Efficient Power Node for evaluation by the US Marine Corps (USMC).

The US Office of Naval Research has awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin to demonstrate and deliver a multi-kilowatt JP-8 compatible fuel cell efficient power node for evaluation by the US Marine Corps (USMC).

Under the 32-month $3m development programme, the company has teamed up with Cleveland-based TMI to design and develop a solid oxide fuel cell generator that will serve as an alternative to traditional battlefield power generation equipment.

Dan Heller, Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors vice president of new ventures, said that the company would support the US Department of Defense's goals of increasing the safety of troops and reducing operational costs.

“Alternative energy solutions, such as the fuel cell we are developing for the Office of Naval Research, can help advance the strength and flexibility of our military operating in some of the world's toughest conditions.”

"Alternative energy solutions, such as the fuel cell we are developing for the Office of Naval Research, can help mitigate these challenges, advancing the strength and flexibility of our military operating in some of the world's toughest conditions," Heller said.

Integration of solar panels with the company's fuel cell technology is expected to significantly help reduce fuel usage and the number of military casualties related to fuel delivery, while providing the military with the same amount of power required in carrying out missions.

Electricity is generated when a chemical reaction occurs during the conversion of fuel by solid oxide fuel cells, which is claimed to be 30-50% more efficient when compared with combustion engines used in diesel generators.

The contract has been awarded as part of the US Navy's efforts to decrease fuel usage required for tactical electrical generation by more than 50%.

Currently, the US military uses more than 100,000 generators to power services, ranging from lighting and air conditioning to computers, radios, and command and control systems worldwide.