Plug Power, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, And National Renewable Energy Laboratory Develop Robotic Fueling Technology for Motive Power Applications
Plug Power, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, And National Renewable Energy Laboratory Develop Robotic Fueling Technology for Motive Power Applications
author Added by FuelCellsWorks, September 11, 2018
  • U.S. Department of Energy Provides $2 Million Grant for Work in Robotics

LATHAM, NY, Sept. 11, 2018 -- Plug Power Inc. (NASDAQ: PLUG), a leader in providing energy solutions that change the way the world moves, in partnership with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Center for Automation Technologies & Systems (CATS) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), is innovating in the space of robotics and automation, specifically with a first-of-its-kind robotic hydrogen fueling technology for motive power applications. The immediate goal of the robotic fueling station is to increase the ease and efficiency of fueling hydrogen-powered vehicles in warehouse settings, where every second amounts to more than $1,000 in annual cost impact for medium to large sites.

The Plug Power and RPI CATS teams completed a pilot feasibility study for the robotic fueling station, which demonstrated the ability of the system to independently interconnect the fuel cell to the fueling station without human intervention. Alongside Plug Power’s engineering team, RPI CATS students developed the technology for the robotic fueling station pilot study, including the computer vision, sensors, robotic manipulation of the fueling nozzle, and remote controlling mechanisms.

“Today, the technology can retrofit existing GenFuel sites supporting the more than 20,000 GenDrive fuel cells in the field,” said Dustan Skidmore, Vice President of Engineering for Plug Power. “In the future, the technology can be used in on-road fleet vehicles, autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs), and self-driving passenger cars.”

“The Plug Power partnership is a great success story for RPI CATS, as we look to develop projects that will become an important part of the business’ long-term strategy,” said Stephen Rock, PhD, senior research scientist at RPI. “Our students gain real-world exposure to companies that they would not otherwise get in the classroom, and get to work on cutting-edge technologies. We’re proud of our program and believe that it is essential to the growth of New York State’s technology leadership position in the U.S. and worldwide.”

The research and development team will use a $2 million grant recently awarded by the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) to develop a commercially viable autonomous hydrogen fueling station, with additional technology development including data exchange, interconnection interfaces, and robotic equipment that meets the safety standards of commercial deployment in unstructured environments. NREL will leverage research experience in hydrogen station performance evaluation and component and system reliability to conduct preliminary testing for on-road fueling. The learnings from this work will then be used to develop a demonstration on-road dispenser.

“We’re thrilled with the outcome of the RPI CATS team’s work on this successful pilot project, and look forward to continued collaboration with both CATS and NREL,” said Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power. “We view our partnership with RPI an important investment in the future of the region, giving students the real-world experience they need to make New York State a corridor for hydrogen and clean-energy technology now, and in the decades to come.”

About Plug Power Inc. 
The architect of modern hydrogen and fuel cell technology, Plug Power is the innovator that has taken hydrogen and fuel cell technology from concept to commercialization. Plug Power has revolutionized the material handling industry with its full-service GenKey solution, which is designed to increase productivity, lower operating costs and reduce carbon footprints in a reliable, cost-effective way. The Company’s GenKey solution couples together all the necessary elements to power, fuel and serve a customer. With proven hydrogen and fuel cell products, Plug Power replaces lead acid batteries to power electric industrial vehicles, such as the lift trucks customers use in their distribution centers. 

Extending its reach into the on-road electric vehicle market, Plug Power’s ProGen platform of modular fuel cell engines empowers OEMs and system integrators to rapidly adopt hydrogen fuel cell technology. ProGen engines are proven today, with thousands in service, supporting some of the most rugged operations in the world. Plug Power is the partner that customers trust to take their businesses into the future. Learn more at www.plugpower.com.

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is America’s first technological research university. For nearly 200 years, Rensselaer has been defining the scientific and technological advances of our world. Rensselaer faculty and alumni represent 86 members of the National Academy of Engineering, 18 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 25 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 8 members of the National Academy of Medicine, 8 members of the National Academy of Inventors, and 5 members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, as well as 6 National Medal of Technology winners, 5 National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With 7,000 students and nearly 100,000 living alumni, Rensselaer is addressing the global challenges facing the 21st century—to change lives, to advance society, and to change the world. To learn more, go to www.rpi.edu.