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Solarcraft C250P Propane Fuel Cell Power System


Continuous, Compact, Clean Remote Power

Propane fuel cells are gaining notice as a viable source for remote power in situations where utility power is unavailable or solar power alone is unsuitable. Solarcraft has developed a fuel cell remote power system for clients who have continuous power requirements in extreme locations. The C250P power system combines an AMI Performer P250i propane fuel cell with 4-265 Ah storage batteries in a single specialized enclosure. An external propane tank supplies fuel to the fuel cell.

Solarcraft C250P fuel cell power systems are currently performing several field tests. The first test system was deployed by AMI in Ann Arbor, MI on December 21, 2012, during which time temperatures have dropped to -16ºC. This system is powering a 50W load continuously with a battery bank of four 265Ah lead acid batteries, and a 100lb propane fuel tank. The Smart battery charging feature means the fuel cell monitors the battery voltage and switches on when the voltage drops below a specified level. The fuel cell charges the batteries back to a specified level and switches off, and the cycle begins again.

AMI and Solarcraft used AMI's engineering model to predict the performance and fuel consumption based on the customer's load. In the field test, the fuel cell burns for 40 hours, consuming 9.2 lbs of propane, to fully charge the battery bank, followed by 135 hours of battery discharge. The system is functioning as the model predicted and continues to operate at full power.

Additional systems are scheduled for testing throughout 2013, beginning in mid February with a traffic signal application. The application provides backup power for traffic signal operation during power outages caused by storms or extreme weather. The fuel cell is powered by natural gas supplied via a standard natural gas utility line. In the event of an extended electric power outage like the situation following Super Storm Sandy, the system will function without interruption utilizing natural gas fuel.

Four more fuel cell systems are deployed to customer locations for field application testing. In addition, a hybrid solar-fuel cell system is scheduled for deployment in an extremely remote area of Alaska in May 2013.

System Advantages:

  • Continuous power independent of weather conditions
  • Compact power
  • Smart battery charging
  • Low emissions

Power Rating:

  • 250W continuous
  • 12 or 24VDC
  • Fuel source: propane or natural gas
  • Operating Temp: -20ºC to 50ºC

Solarcraft AMI Test snow

AMI Conducts Over-Winter Field Testing of Solarcraft C250P propane fuel cell power unit.

Solarcraft AMI Fuel Cell carriage

Interior of the power system, with ventilation grill in enclosure door on left side, and fuel cell carriage door swung open to reveal the fuel cell case inside.

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