The next generation of students at Richland School District Two’s new Institute of Innovation (R2i2) will have the chance to see the future of alternative energy in action when a hydrogen fuel cell unit – formerly in use at Fort Jackson – will be redeployed as a backup power system at the school by M.B. Kahn Construction Co., Inc. in partnership with the Fuel Cell Collaborative.
The fuel cell units to be redeployed were removed from Fort Jackson in the fall of 2014 following a successful five-year demonstration project under the Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell “Market Transformation” initiative. The original demonstration project involved a total of 10 fuel cell units, and was managed by SCRA, one of the Fuel Cell Collaborative’s founding members. After SCRA took custody of the fuel cells at the completion of the Ft. Jackson project, the Fuel Cell Collaborative funded work to refurbish the units still suitable for service. SCRA has transferred nine of these units to M.B. Kahn to support multiple redeployment opportunities. The refurbished fuel cell units are expected to provide five or more years of clean, green backup energy.
“SCRA is excited to be able to join with M.B. Kahn and our Fuel Collaborative partners in this innovative approach for advancing the hydrogen and fuel industry in our state,” said Bill Mahoney, SCRA CEO, and member of the Fuel Cell Collaborative Executive Committee. “The opportunity to deliver follow-on value from previous public-private investments reflects SCRA’s commitment to be faithful stewards of the funding we receive to promote commercialization activities in new technology domains.”
The refurbished fuel cell units will be used for public school education projects across the Midlands, including Richland School District Two’s new Institute of Innovation. The unit installed at R2i2 will provide a clean energy backup power option of up to five kilowatts for IT operations and allow for cost savings. Additionally, the fuel cell will be used as an integral piece in a Next Energy and Fuel Cell Engineering class that will be offered at R2i2.
“Richland Two is proud to be a part of the Midlands’ focus on alternative energy,” said Dr. Debbie Hamm, Superintendent of Richland School District Two. “Teaching our students about creating and providing affordable sources of energy bodes well for the future of the state of South Carolina and our nation.”
Students and educators will have the chance to see the fuel cell industry taking a new direction, and trained technicians will be afforded more opportunities to service them and analyze their performance over time in a practical, aftermarket application. Additional refurbished units are planned for installation in other Midlands schools; the remaining units will be maintained at an M.B. Kahn facility, where they can be cycled regularly to hydrate fuel cell stacks in anticipation of future deployment in a public school project.
M. B. Kahn is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and is committed to providing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) construction practices to its clients.
According to Rick Ott, Senior Executive Vice President of M.B. Kahn Construction Co., Inc., “M.B. Kahn Construction is very pleased to participate in this innovative partnership. As construction experts in this new age of building, our goal is to assist school districts by placing clean energy technologies into today’s classrooms where the next generation of scientists and engineers are being taught.”
Fuel cell backup power systems have been used commercially for a wide variety of applications, but are ideal for protecting against power outages to critical equipment lasting eight hours or more, under which circumstances the units will continue to run as long as they are supplied with hydrogen.
The nonprofit Fuel Cells 2000 project has named South Carolina as a “Top Five Fuel Cell State” consistently from 2011 to 2015, citing S.C. as a leader for innovation in and support for fuel cell research and development. Locally, the USC-Columbia Fuel Cell Collaborative was awarded the Excellence in Tech-Based Economic Development Award for 2011 by the International Economic Developers Council (IEDC) and received national recognition in June 2009 as the recipient of the Southern Growth Policies Board Innovator Award.
About the Fuel Cell Collaborative
The Fuel Cell Collaborative is a consortium of organizations, including the University of South Carolina, the Savannah River National Lab, the City of Columbia, EngenuitySC, SCRA, and Midlands Technical College, with a mission to attract private sector partners, top fuel cell scientists, entrepreneurs and innovators to the Columbia region, as well as to collaborate with private sector leaders from all areas of the fuel cell market for the deployment of fuel cell and other alternative energy technologies into multiple applications throughout the region. For more information, visit www.fuelcellcollaborative.com.
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