Reversible Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (RSOFC) system. Image source: Boeing

US-based aerospace company and manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems, Boeing, has delivered a reversible solid oxide fuel cell to the US Navy to determine its ability to support the energy needs of military and commercial customers.

The manufacturer claims that this technology is the first of its kind, which has the ability to store energy from renewable resources (including wind and solar), producing clean, zero-emissions electricity.

[quote]The second pilot has been connected to the US Navy’s ‘microgrid’, at the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Centre in Port Hueneme, California.

Fuel cell technology

Boeing has described this system to generate, compress and store hydrogen—“When the grid demands power, it operates as a fuel cell, consuming the stored hydrogen to produce electricity.”

They added in a company statement: “Boeing’s technology is unique in being able to both store energy and produce electricity in a single system, making the technology ‘reversible’.”

Lance Towers, director, Advanced Technology Programmes said: “This fuel cell solution is an exciting new technology providing our customers with a flexible, affordable and environmentally progressive option for energy storage and power generation.”

South African fuel cell industry

Earlier this month, a feasibility study of fuel cells was implemented, and if successful could be in production within two years, according to Isondo Precious Metals.

The study will be financed by the Department of Trade and Industry and IPM, a company established to grow the South African platinum and metals industry, will be heading up the study.

In 2015, Africa’s first-ever 100 kilowatt fuel cell, which runs on platinum and natural gas, was installed at the Chamber of Mines offices in Johannesburg.

The Platinum Power Fuel Cell project was a joint venture between the Department of Trade and Industry, which funded the feasibility study estimated at ZAR7.5 million ($592,014), and energy company Mitochondria, which received loan financing of ZAR3.25 million ($253,751) from the Industrial Development Corporation.

At the launch of this installation, industry put out a call for platinum-rich South Africa to commit to 1,000MW of platinum fuel cell-generated electricity by 2020.