Danbury, Connecticut-based FuelCell Energy Inc. has announced a $3.8 million contract award from the U.S. Navy to develop and test a Hybrid Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC)-Battery power system for large displacement undersea vehicle propulsion. The objective of the project is to develop a re-fuelable power system, with high energy density, that is suitable for undertaking long duration underwater missions of unmanned submersibles. The Hybrid SOFC-Battery system will be capable of generating 1,800 kilowatt hours of electricity during a 70 day mission with no exhaust discharged outside of the vehicle at any time. It will use liquid fuel and be self-contained with no reliance on external air.
“This is a challenging and exciting project due to the unique installation, and we expect to apply knowledge gained from this project into a range of other applications, including maritime applications of fuel cells and auxiliary power units,” said Tony Leo, Vice President of Application Engineering and Advanced Technology Development at FuelCell Energy, Inc. ”Developing a compact solid oxide fuel cell balance of plant with a liquid fuel, will not only have potential for deployment in defense-related applications, but has viability as power systems for use in commercial underwater vehicles, marine vessels, and remote sites.”
The FuelCell Energy Hybrid SOFC-Battery power system is attractive for underwater vehicle applications as its high efficiency minimizes usage of both stored fuel and oxygen in the confined spaces available onboard the vehicle. The system achieves air independence by utilizing a unique oxygen storage technology, maintains neutral buoyancy with no discharge of system products and is capable of responding to the peak power demands for a typical Large Displacement Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (LDUUV) as defined by the U.S. Navy.
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