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Ballard teams up with Caterpillar and Microsoft to demonstrate hydrogen fuel cell generator system

November 22, 2021   Maryam Farag

Photo: Ballard Power Systems Inc.

Ballard Power Systems has launched a three-year project through a collaboration with Caterpillar Inc. and Microsoft to demonstrate a power system incorporating large-format hydrogen fuel cells to produce sustainable backup power for data centres.

The project is supported and partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under the H2@Scale initiative and backed by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL).

Caterpillar experts in power technologies, controls and system integration are working alongside Microsoft experts in data centre design and Ballard experts in fuel cell design, to demonstrate a 1.5 MW backup power delivery and control system that would meet expectations set by current diesel engine systems,

“At Caterpillar, we focus on supporting our customers with reliable, resilient and economical power solutions while achieving their climate-related goals,” said Jason Kaiser, Vice-President, Caterpillar Electric Power. “This hydrogen fuel cell demonstration project enables us to collaborate with industry leaders to take a large step toward commercially viable power solutions that also support our customers in making their operations more sustainable.”

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Ballard will provide a 1.5 MW ClearGen-II hydrogen fuel cell power generator. As the prime contractor on the project, Caterpillar is providing the overall system integration, power electronics, and controls that form the central structure of the power solution, which will be fueled by low-carbon-intensity hydrogen. Microsoft is hosting the demonstration project at a company data centre in Quincy, Washington. NREL is performing analyses on safety, techno-economics, and greenhouse gas impacts.

“We continue to invest in research and advanced development in hydrogen fuel cells as one of the various pathways toward our commitment to be carbon negative by 2030,” said Christian Belady, Distinguished Engineer and VP, Advanced Development, Cloud Operations + Innovation, Microsoft. “This latest project with Caterpillar will provide valuable insights into how to leverage hydrogen fuel cells for backup power in our datacenters at scale.”

“We are excited to be collaborating with a complementary team of global industry leaders on this important demonstration project,” said Randy MacEwen, President & CEO, Ballard. “The project will also explore the scalability of fuel cell systems powered by low carbon-intensity hydrogen from cost and performance perspectives.”