Hurricane Sandy, the largest Atlantic hurricane in history, which devastated parts of the Caribbean islands and the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, is still being felt by many of the people it has affected. As of a few days ago there were still over 2 million people without power in New York and New Jersey. And, now another storm is on the way.
But, one bright spot during this natural disaster has been the Ballard fuel cell backup power systems that were used in the Caribbean to keep the communications networks up and running. Ballard had deployed 17 ElectraGen backup systems and each exhibited 100-percent reliability.
According to Ballard, “During the 3 days that Hurricane Sandy passed over the Bahamas, each of the 5 kilowatt systems operated flawlessly as needed to maintain consistent power. As a group, the 17 systems provided the equivalent of one month of backup power over a concentrated 7 day period during and after the storm; producing more than 1,200 kilowatt-hours of electricity …
“… For the over 347,000 residents of the Bahamas dealing with sustained winds of 80mph, up to 6 – 12 inches of rainfall accumulation and a storm surge 5 to 8 feet above normal ocean levels, continuous and reliable communications were critical … The ElectraGen™-ME system includes a fuel reformer that converts HydroPlus™, a methanol-water liquid fuel mixture, into hydrogen gas that is used as a fuel feedstock for the fuel cell system. The only outputs from the fuel cell system are electrical power, heat and water.”
Now, along the U. S. East coast, particularly in New York and New Jersey things were a bit different. Conventional backup generators for a couple of different hospitals failed, Lower Manhattan fell into an eerie blackout and gas stations ran out of power, even though one would think they would have gasoline or diesel generators on-hand for just such emergencies.
So, perhaps Hurricane Sandy will be a wakeup call for those who need reliable backup generators during emergency situations. Hydrogen fuel cell backup generators are much more reliable than gasoline or diesel powered generators and they may just save lives during the next Über storm.