Power Electronics


Freedom CAR to Accelerate Stationary Fuel Cells

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has allocated $1.5 billion in U.S. government subsidies to further develop fuel cell technologies for automotive applications. The program, called Freedom CAR (Cooperative Automotive Research), was jointly developed by DaimlerChrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, DOE, and the U.S. Council for Automotive Research. Freedom CAR will replace a $1.5 billion, eight-year project aimed at developing high mileage per gallon engine powered vehicles.

For the fuel cell companies pursuing automotive applications such as Ballard and United Technologies Fuel Cells, this will probably result in considerable government subsidized research and development funding. For the rest of the fuel cell world, the answer isn't as simple.

For the automotive fuel cell market to directly impact the stationary fuel cell market, fuel cell vehicles must achieve commercial success.

To meet these requirements, automotive fuel cells must overcome a number of technical barriers. Most important is the need to further develop hydrogen-reforming technologies, which are used to convert hydrogen rich fuels (gasoline, natural gas, methanol, etc.) to pure hydrogen. Without this technology, a hydrogen infrastructure will need to be constructed at a very high cost. There are also significant size, weight, and noise requirements placed on automotive fuel cells. These fuel cells must finally meet stringent safety standards on the federal, state, and local levels.

More information is available from the VDC report, “The North American Market for Grid Power Solutions: Distributed & Ride-Through Technologies.” E-mail [email protected].

T12 Fluorescent Lamps Will Not Be Eliminated

Recent reports in some consumer publications said that T12 fluorescent lamps will be eliminated in 2005. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), wants consumers to know that this is incorrect. T12 fluorescent lamps are common fluorescent tubes that have been used in millions of homes, offices, retail centers, and schools throughout the United States.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) published a final rule on fluorescent lamp ballasts dated September 19, 2000. Magnetic ballasts for certain lamp types may not be manufactured or sold for new commercial and industrial luminaires after March 31, 2005. In effect, the rule requires that commercial and industrial luminaires sold after April 1, 2006 for 2-ft “U,” 4-ft rapid start, 8-ft instant start, and 8-ft-high output lamps must incorporate electronic ballasts. Since the majority of electronic ballasts are designed for use with T8 lamps, the ongoing market transition from T12 systems to the more efficient T8 systems will be given an intended boost.

Some exceptions in the DOE rule are for applications having electromagnetic compatibility problems with electronic ballasts, for 8-ft high output lamps in outdoor signs, for T12 dimming to less than 50% output, and for T12 ballasts with power factors less than 0.9, designed and labeled for residential use.

Thermacore Launches Engineering Services Group

Thermacore recently announced the launch of its Engineering Services Group. Thermacore and its parent corporation, Modine, have provided design optimization, analysis, and testing services for its core customers. These capabilities are now offered as a service to the electronics industry on a contract basis. Modine's Technical Centers together with Thermacore's thermal test and analysis capabilities offer customers access to more than $30 million of recently completed thermal and mechanical testing facilities and more than 450 thermal engineers. Services include thermal modeling, analysis, design optimization, and thermal solution verification.

For more information, contact Scott Garner at (717) 519-5827 or visit www.thermacore.com.

CENELEC and EPSMA to Cooperate

European Electrotechnical Standards Organization (CENELEC) and the European Power Supply Manufacturers Association (EPSMA) have recently signed a cooperation agreement. With signatures from Mr. Parlevliet, Secretary General of CENELEC, and Mr. Erdl, Chairman of EPSMA, the agreement allows for direct cooperation and mutual contribution to each other's work. As stated in CENELEC Guide 14, this agreement guarantees direct input from EPSMA into the standardization work undertaken by CENELEC. EPSMA may thus advise on and state standardization priorities, propose drafts as a contribution to the European standardization process, and deliver expert advice on legislative consequences of new standards.

For more information, visit www.cenelec.org and www.epsma.org.

Commercializing Fuel Cell Vehicles

The following requirements are necessary for fuel cell vehicles to effectively commercialize:

  • The fuel cell vehicle must have lower emissions than an internal combustion engine.
  • Its driving performance must be at least equal to that of an internal combustion engine.
  • It must provide profits for automotive manufacturers and fuel cell companies.
  • It must provide profits for energy companies by means of its fuel supply.

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