Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) technology is an alternative energy source that uses an efficient chemical reaction to convert fuel into electricity. Lockheed Martin is working to make fuel cell generators rugged enough for military applications, including generators or “gensets.”
The DoD has more than 100,000 gensets deployed around the world. Gensets are major consumers of fuel in the battlefield, providing power for warfighters in theater ranging from lighting and air conditioning to powering computers, radios and other command and control systems. The troops who transport the fuel are some of the most exposed in the battlefield. Operating more efficient gensets will help keep the troops who transport fuel out of harm’s way.
Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) technology developed by Lockheed Martin collaborator Technology Management Inc. (TMI) is an alternative means of generating electrical power from JP-8 fuel and includes the following key benefits:
- Significantly more fuel efficient than conventional gensets – will reduce genset fuel usage by one third to one half.
- Cleaner – SOFC gensets have a smaller carbon footprint, and reduced emissions, compared with current day conventional gensets.
- Sulfur tolerant – TMI has the only fuel cell system technology that can run on the DoD’s standard JP-8 fuel without complex, inefficient and logistically difficult desulfurization processes used by other SOFC providers.
- Quiet – SOFC gensets are much quieter than the gensets currently used by the Armed Forces.
In August, 2012, the Office of Naval Research 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.
The SOFC technology is also applicable to auxiliary power units (APUs) for ground vehicles, providing clean, efficient electrical power to ground vehicle systems.