"We have been thoroughly impressed… [and] we are confident [that Bloom has] only reached the tip of the iceberg of what they can accomplish with their technology."
– Dr. Henry McDonald, UTC Chair of Excellence
The University of Tennessee Chattanooga Sim Center Achieves Success with a 5kW System
Fuel cell technology has been around as a source of alternative energy for over a hundred years and has been used regularly since the 1960s to provide mission-critical energy for spacecraft. But fuel cells have never been economical enough to cross over to mainstream commercial applications… until now. By leveraging breakthrough advances in materials science, Bloom Energy has developed a solid oxide fuel cell with the potential to make clean, reliable energy affordable.
In 2005, Bloom set out to validate the capabilities of its technology through real-world customer deployments. With a Department of Energy grant, the Sim Center, at The University of Tennessee Chattanooga, was selected as the first field trial. The Sim Center was an ideal first deployment because of a strong desire to be at the forefront of alternative energy technologies and progressive leadership in the city of Chattanooga and the state of Tennessee. Also exciting was the opportunity to rollout this new cutting edge technology in the Tennessee Valley, the birthplace of the US grid.
The Bloom Energy 5kW fuel cell system arrived at the Sim Center in January 2006. After successful installation and all necessary approvals were obtained, the alternative energy system was commissioned in February 2006 at a ceremony with university and city dignitaries, local business leaders, and the region’s congressman.
The project was a tremendous success. The 5kW system used a natural gas feed to produce electricity which it provided to the Tennessee Valley Authority grid. The system also demonstrated a successful ability to co-generate hydrogen. The system was in operation for over 18 months providing 99% load availability, while managed entirely remotely from Bloom Energy Remote Monitoring Command Center in Sunnyvale, CA. As a satisfied customer, The Sim Center has ordered a 100kW system to be installed in 2010.