July 26, 2012

CT's FuelCell devising stealth-sub power system

Danbury's FuelCell Energy Inc. won a $3.8 million Navy contract to apply its technology to power stealthy, unmanned submarines, authorities say.

FuelCell is part of a civilian-military team tasked with devising within 18 months a solid-fuel power system capable of 1,800 kilowatts hours of electricity, enough for a 70-day underwater mission, the company said Friday.

FuelCell's technology that relies on stacked chemical plates to generate electricity is desirable because a vehicle powered by them won't have to come up for air and won't generate tell-tale exhaust, authorities said.

The company said the defense technology could have practical applications in the civilian sector, such as powering marine vessels and remote communications or other sites.

"This is a challenging and exciting project due to the unique installation and we expect to apply knowledge gained from this project into a range of other applications including maritime applications of fuel cells and auxiliary power units," said Tony Leo, FuelCell vice president.

Other team members include: Versa Power Systems, which is part owned by FuelCell Energy; the Energy Systems Division of NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Yardney Technical Products Inc.; the Naval Underwater Warfare Center; and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

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