Mobile lighting systems powered by hydrogen fuel cells are cleaner and quieter and now have a proven track-record in applications like nighttime construction, sports and entertainment events, and airport operations, making them ready for commercialization and broader use.
That’s the conclusion reached by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories and others after a multiyear project sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office and the Boeing Co. Project support also came from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Altergy Systems and 11 other project partners.
Over the past five years, Sandia and 14 institutional partners have been developing the fuel-cell mobile light tower, called H2LT, as a clean, efficient alternative to traditional lights powered by diesel generators.
The pilot programs were intended to perform a variety of lighting tasks, assess the operation and reliability of the technology in a variety of potentially corrosive environments, reduce diesel emissions at deployment locations and help promote hydrogen fuel-cell technology in new markets.
“The project has been deemed a major success in opening up new fuel-cell markets that complement broader hydrogen-energy markets, including the light-duty vehicle market,” said Lennie Klebanoff, Sandia project lead.
“Wherever the H2LT was used or displayed, we engaged with local fire and building safety authorities and first responders, few of whom had prior knowledge of the physical or safety aspects of hydrogen and fuel-cell technology,” he said. “After hearing our technology descriptions and seeing the different ways the H2LT was being used, those groups rapidly welcomed the technology as both reliable and safe.”
In addition to zero emissions, the most attractive feature of the fuel-cell mobile light system is perhaps how quiet it is.
“The primary driver of the project from the outset was the lowering of greenhouse gas emissions, and, in fact, the H2LT system was not designed to minimize noise,” Klebanoff said. “Still, hydrogen fuel-cell technology, by its very nature, is dramatically quieter than diesel generators, and this noise reduction is something that really excites users.”