ALPHARETTA, Ga., and CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Fuel Cell Enabling Technologies, Inc. (FCET), a start-up energy technology company that has developed a novel, low-cost solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) system, has announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with NextGenPropulsion, LLC (NGP) indicating NGP’s intent to purchase FCET fuel cells for NGP light-rail trains and freight locomotives.
In addition to fuel cell orders, this would mean engineering collaboration between the two firms, each bringing its specific and considerable expertise to these projects.
Locomotives have for some time been considered a prime target for new and renewable propulsion technology, but this collaboration may result in the first rail application of a fuel cell in the United States. NGP chose FCET’s fuel cell due in large part to its low-cost, high-efficiency design, making it a perfect candidate for installation in both light-rail and freight locomotive applications.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better partner and a better application of FCET’s technology… the promise of fuel cells in rail applications has always been at the forefront of our minds at FCET, and so we are thrilled to be playing a central role in this huge leap in locomotive technology” said Paul Fisher, FCET CEO.
NGP has already established itself as a leader in advancing US rail propulsion technology. Members of their team have previously partnered with the University of Birmingham and the University of Warwick, both in the United Kingdom, where prototype hydrogen-powered trains have been operating for years. FCET’s SOFC would be an improvement over existing PEM designs due to SOFC’s advantages in efficiency and power density. Previously, however, SOFC type cells were considered too complex and too expensive for such applications.
“FCET’s low temperature and low cost offer the best of both worlds for NGP: a high-efficiency cell at a price point that will make the commercialization of hydrogen-powered rail not only a possibility, but an obvious replacement for current, century-old technology” according to Dr. Keith Baarson, one of NGP’s founders and chief engineers.