Insitu is teaming up with the Air Force Research Lab later this year to test a fuel cell in the Integrator, a newer, bigger version that can carry heavier payloads such as radio relay equipment to assist soldiers in the field. “Fuel cell technology has room for growth, and that will provide an opportunity for continued efficiency improvements and weight reduction,” said Jeff Knapp, Insitu’s Chief Engineer.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has invested heavily in alternative energy recently, with a specific interest in hydrogen fuel, as efforts grow to reduce dependence on foreign sources of energy. Fuel cells are becoming more efficient and less expensive to make and the technology continues to develop rapidly. The DOD anticipates using fuel cells for power distribution and for backup generators at defense facilities around the country. Plans to operate almost exclusively on hydrogen fuel are in progress.
In a statement regarding the DOD’s efforts, Morry Markowitz, executive director of the U.S. Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association, recognized that “the U.S. Department of Defense is demonstrating innovation and leadership by recommending the adoption of fuel cell technology for a variety of operational, cost and environmental reasons. Acquiring fuel cell systems will improve U.S. defense energy usage, protecting and creating jobs in the fuel cell industry.”
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