Tackling One of America’s Toughest Jobs

Ohio grant to help test Lockheed Martin fuel cell-based generator to ensure it can withstand the rigors of military use.


file Reducing the need for fuel, with such innovations as Lockheed Martin’s fuel cell generator, would lessen the risk to troops and equipment protecting fuel convoys from insurgents in Afghanistan.

From Afghanistan’s rugged terrain to Iraq’s desert plains and everything in between, the country’s fighting men and women operate in the most extreme conditions the world has to offer. And the military’s embedded systems must perform in those harsh environments. Equipment failure is not an option, so the military requires extensive testing to ensure gear is reliable and battlefield-ready prior to its deployment.

To help make certain its fuel cell technology is ruggedized for military generators, Lockheed Martin won a competitive grant to do just that. The Ohio Third Frontier Commission recently awarded Lockheed Martin $1 million to continue testing fuel cell-based generators for field demonstrations with the U.S. military.

With more than 100,000 worldwide, military generators power electronics on the battlefield and require costly fuel – ranging from $20-$100 per gallon as the norm to upwards to $400 a gallon by the time it reaches troops, according to Pentagon officials. Lockheed Martin’s Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) technology converts fuel to electricity through a clean, quiet and efficient chemical reaction. SOFC systems use at least 50 percent less fuel than conventional internal combustion generators.

The grant will fund demonstrations later this year to highlight the fuel cell-based generators’ field-readiness and capability to operate with military fuel. Lockheed Martin recently tested a fuel cell generator operating continuously 24/7 for more than six weeks using untreated JP-8 diesel fuel. This major technical milestone demonstrated that Lockheed Martin’s system, unlike any other fuel cell, is compatible with the DoD’s standard fuels.

Lockheed Martin is collaborating with Ohio’s oldest fuel cell company, Technology Management Inc. of Cleveland and other Ohio fuel cell companies, including Catacel Corp., Gorman-Rupp Industries, Refractory Specialties Inc., Energy Technology, Inc.  and Core Technology Lockheed Martin is currently under contract with the U.S. Army to develop, test and evaluate a ruggedized version of the SOFC generator this Fall. All of these activities are focused on getting this technology to our country’s fighting men and women as soon as practical.

Created in 2002 by the state government, the Ohio Third Frontier is a technology-based economic development initiative to create new technology-based products, companies, industries and jobs. The Third Frontier Fuel Cell Program accelerates the development and growth of Ohio’s fuel cell industry by direct financial support to organizations seeking to advance fuel cell technology.