Fuel Cells to Save Money, Lives

Navy contracts with Lockheed Martin to develop solid oxide fuel cell to reduce reliance on inefficient diesel generators, decrease fuel consumption

 

Fuel-Convoy-680x310 Supply convoys are a frequent target of IEDs and insurgent attacks. The Navy recently awarded Lockheed Martin a $3 million contract to design and develop a solid oxide fuel cell generator that can be integrated with solar panels, requiring dramatically less fuel.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is the world’s largest institutional energy user, with a 2011 energy bill totaling $5 billion. In Afghanistan, fuel can cost up to $400 a gallon once transportation and security expenses are included.

A 2009 study conducted by Deloitte estimated that one casualty occurred for every 24 fuel supply convoys, with as many as one in eight U.S. Army casualties in Iraq from 2003-2007 the result of protecting fuel convoys.

It’s no wonder the DoD wants to become more energy efficient, and the Navy seeks to cut its petroleum use in half by 2015. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is turning to Lockheed Martin to help accomplish that goal.

ONR recently awarded Lockheed Martin a $3 million contract to design and develop a solid oxide fuel cell generator that can be integrated with solar panels, providing the power to perform missions while using dramatically less fuel.  The goal of the program is to reduce overall fuel usage required for tactical electrical generation by 50 percent or more. 

Currently, the military’s more than 100,000 generators use diesel fuel for everything from air conditioning to weapon systems. Solid oxide fuel cells convert fuel into electricity using a chemical reaction 30 to 50 percent more efficient than the diesel generators’ combustion engines – the largest consumers of diesel on the battlefield today.

“Lockheed Martin shares the U.S. Department of Defense’s top goals of increasing the safety of our troops and reducing operational costs,” said Dan Heller, vice president of new ventures for Lockheed Martin. “Alternative energy solutions, such as the fuel cell we are developing for the Office of Naval Research, can help mitigate these challenges, advancing the strength and flexibility of our military operating in some of the world’s toughest conditions.”

Working with Cleveland-based TMI to mature the technology, Lockheed Martin is the first and only company to continuously operate a solid oxide fuel cell generator set for more than 1,000 hours on standard DoD-supplied JP-8 diesel fuel.  

For the 32-month development program, Lockheed Martin will demonstrate and deliver a multi-kilowatt JP-8 compatible Fuel Cell Efficient Power Node for evaluation by the Marine Corps.

Posted August 14, 2012


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