The growing business trend toward green design and operations has engendered a mini trend of its own – companies that go beyond eco-friendly buildings, furniture and office supplies to invest in new green technology. This article reports on just such an effort – Verizon’s design and implementation of a new fuel cell pilot project that powers its central office by using seven UTC Power Pure Cell 200 fuel cells, each of which can generate 200 kilowatts of electrical power per hour, powered with piped-in natural gas. Instead of burning the natural gas, hydrogen atoms are stripped from it as it’s fed into the cells and then combined with oxygen atoms from the air to generate direct current (DC) electrical power.
Water and heat byproducts are taken from each cell while the DC is converted to (AC) electricity to power the building. Verizon’s dependence on commercial power is reduced, lowering its maintenance costs, and the byproducts of this process –water and moist heated air – are used to help heat and cool the building.
The author notes that the project was funded, in part, by grants from the Department of Energy and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Verizon itself spent over $10 million and is currently funding several trials involving smaller versions of fuel cells and is monitoring reliability, maintenance and project costs to determine if this solution is reproducible for other facilities.
Source: Stephanie Dell, Telephony (Chicago); June 5, 2006