USTDA Events

China: Fuel Cell Application for Telecommunications

A USTDA grant is funding a feasibility study and pilot project for Jiangsu Communications Services Company, Ltd. to evaluate fuel cell applications within the telecommunications infrastructure in China and achieve a design that is targeted and acceptable to the vast potential of the Chinese market. The fuel cell systems would be used for both backup and baseload or off-grid power, replacing lead acid batteries and diesel fueled combustion generators. The Contractor for the activity is First Element Energy based in Lenexa, Kansas USA.

The pilot portion of the activity consisted of installation of First Element's fuel cell units at two sites. The first unit, which is fueled by compressed hydrogen gas, has been successfully tested and approved by a major Chinese carrier as a back-up power source for a telecommunications station. The second system differs from the first because it is able to use a mixture of liquid methanol and water as fuel. The key feature on this second system is a reformer that converts the mixed liquid fuel into hydrogen gas, which is then used by the fuel cell to generate power. The advantages of the methanol system are near-zero emissions, lower fuel costs, easier fuel distribution, and much longer times between refueling intervals. This integrated system is able to cost-effectively compete against diesel generators in baseload power use.

In addition, in-country training has been completed on both systems and the feasibility study portion of the activity is nearing completion. First Element estimates that the Final Report will be submitted to Jiangsu Communications Services Company, Ltd. in the 2nd quarter. Therefore, the Final Report will likely be approved by June 2014. The study has indicated there is a large potential for the technology's broad implementation in China.

For more information about this project, please contact First Element Energy via their website at

In the USA please email Steve Quai at
In China please email to Cheng Yu Tang at