Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology For Data Center Backup Power

Caterpillar, Ballard, And Microsoft Demonstrate Viability Of Using Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology For Backup Power

(Image Courtesy Of Microsoft)

Caterpillar has announced the success of its collaboration with Microsoft and Ballard Power Systems to demonstrate the viability of using large-format hydrogen fuel cells to supply sustainable backup power for data centers. According to Caterpillar, the demonstration provided valuable insights into the capabilities of fuel cell systems to power multi-megawatt data centers, ensuring uninterrupted power supply to meet 99.999% uptime requirements.

The demonstration was conducted at 6086 ft. (1855 m) above sea level and in below-freezing conditions. The project simulated a 48-hour backup power event at Microsoft’s data center in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where a hydrogen fuel cell was integrated into a data center electrical plant to support its critical load. A Caterpillar Microgrid Controller was used to operate two Cat Power Grid Stabilization (PGS) 1260 battery energy storage systems along with the Ballard 1.5-MW hydrogen fuel cell.

Caterpillar led the project, providing the overall system integration, power electronics, and microgrid controls that form the central structure of the hydrogen power solution.

The project was supported and partially funded by the US Department of Energy Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office under the H2@Scale initiative, which brings stakeholders together to advance affordable hydrogen production, transport, storage, and utilization in multiple energy sectors.

“This project’s success provides an opportunity for hyperscale providers to drive innovations in the sustainability of power generation technologies,” said Sean James, senior director of data center research at Microsoft. “The research and findings of the hydrogen fuel cell demonstration will help us toward our goal of becoming carbon negative by 2030.”