UPS Systems plc has become the first UK installation to install an APC fuel cell system and is believed to be the first company in the country to run its mainstream business-critical IT applications on a fuel-cell based standby power system
Up until now, much of the emerging interest in hydrogen technology has been centred on the automotive industry but recently interest in fuel cells for stationery applications has been gaining momentum. UPS Systems had been tracking these developments for the past 4 years and were ready to take advantage of this revolutionary product as soon as it became available. Working very closely with APC, they ordered one of the first Fuel Cell systems in production last autumn and have now taken delivery.
The unit has been installed at the company's Hungerford headquarters and is being used to support the company's servers and desktop PC systems. 'We are now able to endorse fuel cell technology as a means of providing standby power and our belief in the product is such that we felt we should put our money where our mouth is', says Tom Sperrey, Managing Director.
Now, for the first time, the source of generated power can be located in the computer room, next to the servers it protects and under the direct control of the IT or Computer Room Manager. There will be no need for costly, time-consuming planning permission cycles as the only emissions are heat and water. Its low audible noise makes in suitable for inside installations; even operating in open offices. That would never be possible with conventional diesel generators.
The APC system is based on the Hydrogenics fuel cell engine, which utilises PEM technology. In this, hydrogen is passed over one side of the Proton Exchange Membrane and Oxygen (Air) over the other side. In linking to form water vapour, negative ions are produced which are captured at the membrane.
With this product, up to three 10kW fuel cells can be mounted in the same rack, providing a maximum of 30kW of power. Its modular, rack-integrated design make it easy to add more power. The fuel cell system is linked to a 10kW 3-phase APC Smart-UPS VT and will provide potentially unlimited runtime in the event of power failure.
Fuel cell systems are a greener alternative to batteries and generators. They are clean and quiet and the hydrogen, which is piped in from an external tank or bottles, produces no exhaust gases other than water vapour. They have very few moving parts, making maintenance minimal.
The system is designed to be installed in a typical computer-room rack and stand adjacent to the UPS and server racks in the computer room. At UPS Systems, the fuel cell proudly stands in an open office area.
The gas storage and supply installation was designed with the help of BOC and local companies assisted with the design and implementation of the cooling system and electrical installation. The installation complies with the HSE Guideline HSG243.