What is a fuel cell?

A fuel cell is a galvanic cell that converts the energy created by the chemical reaction between a constant stream of fuel and an oxidant into electrical energy. The underlying principle is an electrochemical process that is also known as “cold combustion”. It is in principle the reversal of electrolysis. A fuel cell is not an energy store but a converter that generates electricity. The energy required to produce electricity comes from the fuel.

What temperature range can fuel cells operate?

We integrate fuel cells into insulated and engineered enclosures which allow them to operate in ambient temperatures as low as -40°C and as high as 50°C . Without integration a fuel cell can operate at temperatures as low as -20°C.

Why use a fuel cell for remote power?

Fuel cells are an ideal solution for remote power needs as they are:

  • Inherently reliable
  • Low maintenance
  • Small footprint
  • Very price competitive
  • Offer a wide range of voltages
  • Extremely efficient
  • Very green (low emissions)
  • Really quiet
  • Can support a wide range of loads (the sweet spot being 3kW or less)
  • Equipped with full remote monitoring capability

How does a hybrid power system work?

For critical loads or greater power needs, we use a hybrid combination of solar power, wind and/or fuel cells.

The prime source of power will always be solar, meaning, when solar is available it will charge the batteries as much as it can. In the event that solar cannot keep up, this is where the fuel cells come into play. There is a preset range that the fuel cell monitors the battery bank. When the battery bank reaches the low voltage, the fuel cell turns on and charges the battery bank until the battery bank has reached its fully charged state. At this point the fuel cell ramps down and continues to monitor the battery bank until it is needed again.

What are the benefits of using a hybrid system over solar only?

Solar works great when solar is available. We often work with customers in environments where solar is not readily available year round (Vancouver where it is overcast, and Fort McMurray where daylight is only available for 6.5 hours in the winter). The issue with solar is that you have to implement a huge solar array (up to 40x the load) and even bigger battery bank. Our hybrid systems insulate this issue in the winter when solar is unpredictable by use of the methanol fuel cells.