From: RP Siegel, Triple Pundit, More from this Affiliate
Published January 29, 2014 08:27 AM

DOE Helps Sprint Put Fuel Cells on Cell Towers

What do you get when you cross a fuel cell with a cell tower? Would that be a fuel tower? Or perhaps a fuel cell cell tower? Probably the best people to ask would be the folks at Sprint since they just received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to install hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) technology as backup power to a number of their network sites.

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The technology, still in development, would actually provide innovative approaches for rooftop fuel cell deployments. One approach being explored is a modular and lightweight fuel cell solution that can be installed without cranes and can be refueled from the ground — eliminating the need to transport fuel to rooftops.

The company proposed the use of fuel cells as a cleaner alternative to the more common diesel-powered backup generators, citing them as a way to avoid greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), the risk of ground contaminants and higher maintenance costs. Unlike fossil fuel-based generators, HFCs generate electricity with no environmentally undesirable greenhouse gas emissions. As a company, Sprint strives to limit the deployment of new fossil fuel generators. Sprint is working to reduce its GHG emissions by an absolute 20 percent by 2017.

The full scope and financial structure of the project is yet to be determined, but details are expected in the next 60 days. Sprint hopes to begin installing the fuel cells by the end of 2014. The primary desired outcome of the program is to develop economically and operationally viable methodologies that can be scaled up for a widespread deployment of rooftop fuel cell backup systems. Both Sprint and the DOE hope this can also promote further hydrogen fuel cell advancement across a multitude of industries.

Read more from our affiliate, Triple Pundit.

Cell tower image via Shutterstock.

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