In another move to protect the ozone layer, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and American Power Corp. (Boston) have formed an alliance to field test 3 kW fuel-cell systems for residential and commercial markets. The test will evaluate up to 25 "alpha series" prototype fuel cells to assess their technical and economic potential for services with power requirements in the 1-50 kW range. A typical residence uses 1-2 kW over a 24-hr period. The newer polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel-cell technology has advanced rapidly in the last couple of years, the team reports. American Power's Residential Power Generator, which uses natural gas, propane, or other hydrocarbon fuels as the power source, allows a home to operate either on or independent from a utility power grid. American Power is currently commercializing PEM cells that range from 1 kW up to several megawatts for niche markets. EPRI will lead a field evaluation and demonstration program and manage a users' group. Users will provide feedback on fuel-cell performance, reliability, and durability. EPRI is seeking sponsors to order up to 25 units for delivery in mid-1998. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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