Hydrogen is a universal fuel that will play a major role in our clean, sustainable energy future. Here are some ways hydrogen is already becoming a practical reality in our everyday lives...
Hydrogen Power for Your Cell Phone
Remember the last time you lost an important call on your cell phone? There is a 1 in 3 chance that it was dropped because of a power interruption. Now there are hydrogen technologies on the market that can help.
Today, we are all more reliant on our cell phones than ever before—in fact, more than a third of the world’s population now relies on wireless technology, as do businesses and emergency responders. Your calls are transmitted and received by a dense network of signal relay towers that get their energy from the electrical power grid. When the power supply is interrupted, whether for seconds, minutes or hours, so is your call. Lost calls might not be big deal if you’re catching up with a friend, but they could cost businesses lots of money; and for emergency responders, the inability to connet by cell phone could even mean the difference between life and death. Remember Hurricane Katrina?
Because cell phones are so important, phone companies need a reliable, cost effective supply of backup power to keep their towers running during power outages. Before hydrogen technologies, there were two solutions: gasoline/diesel generators or batteries. Gasoline and diesel generators are noisy and polluting. Battery back-ups are bulky – a cell phone tower would need almost 2 tons of batteries to supply just eight hours of electricity – and take five hours or more to recharge. Plus, they have to be replaced every 2-3 years. Now, hydrogen powered fuel cells can deliver back-up power cleanly, quietly and reliably.
Companies like Plug Power and Altergy Systems have developed back-up power solutions for today’s phone companies using hydrogen fuel cells. That means that when the power is interrupted or cut, fuel cell makes electricity from hydrogen stored in tanks and oxygen from the air. The tanks can be replaced or refilled as needed, so clean, constant power is always available, and the amount of electricity does not decrease over time as it does with batteries. Wireless carriers like Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and even wireless companies in India are noticing the low maintenance, long life, zero emissions, quiet operation, immediate recharging and small size of fuel cells, and are rapidly adopting hydrogen fuel cell systems because of these advantages.
Another factor driving the adoption of fuel cell systems is a law passed as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The law, called the Katrina Act, states that all communications facilities, such as cell phone towers, must be able to provide at least eight hours of back-up power in case of emergency. Hydrogen fuel cell back-up systems can provide the continuous power to keep communications running when disaster strikes. As more companies install fuel cells, America’s emergency responders can rely on hydrogen fuel cells when lives are on the line.
The use of hydrogen fuel cells for back-up power represents an important step forward for hydrogen technologies. Aside from proving to be a very reliable, efficient and now cost-effective alternative technology, Altergy’s fuel cells are making an entrance into the market for on-site, zero-emissions electric power independent of the local electric utility grid. Fuel cells’ success in supporting our communications infrastructure means that hydrogen may soon be powering for your home or office.
Related Link: Information on the growing cell phone tower market in India
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