Propane fuel cells chemically combine fuel and oxygen to generate electricity.

PERC supports the development and demonstration of innovative fuel cells that offer reliable power generation and efficient heat recovery to remote and off-grid users. Propane fuel cells are an increasingly smart choice for consumers seeking power generation with less noise and pollution than conventional alternatives such as diesel generators.

Advanced Propane Fuel Cell Processing System


Nuvera’s advanced fuel processing system enables 1-kilowatt fuel cell output. The constructed system is specifically optimized for propane and is in a stage suitable for performance testing, durability testing, and demonstration purposes. The system can also serve as a prototype for product sales to fuel cell system integrators.

Fuel Cell Assessment


Propane-powered fuel cells can provide remote power, uninterrupted backup power, and portable power in a variety of applications. In this assessment, researchers reviewed state-of-the-art techniques for propane fuel processing and fuel cell systems, assessed fuel cell technology progress to date, and established a path forward to accelerate propane fuel cell commercialization.

Fuel Cell Demonstrations at National Parks

Docket:11687, 11316, 10864, 10479

Fuel cells can provide power for a variety of uses at off-grid national parks, including visitor centers, entrance operations, and administration buildings. Different fuel cells were demonstrated at national parks across the United States to collect real-world data and inform the public about the environmental benefits of the technology.

Kenai Fjords National ParkA 5-kilowatt solid oxide fuel cell provided power supply to the water system over the summer and year-round power supply for the nature center's lighting. The demonstration also included the repair and fitting of the fuel cell with a partial oxidation reformer.

Yellowstone National Park  A 4.5-kilowatt propane-powered fuel cell at Yellowstone National Park's west entrance provided power to operations including fee collection and office functions. Additionally, the demonstration educated visitors on environmentally preferable alternatives for energy production.

Yosemite National ParkA propane-powered Plug Power fuel cell system was demonstrated at both an administration building and a wastewater treatment plant on the park’s premises.

Fuel Cell Processors

Docket:10664, 10547

Fuel cell processors convert propane vapor into hydrogen through combustion, steam reforming, and hydrogen purification.  Global Thermoelectric Inc. developed and tested a commercially viable propane fuel processor for use in 2-kilowatt to 10-kilowatt solid oxide fuel cell systems that consists of a multistage desulfurizer and a partial oxidation reformer. HyRadix developed a fuel cell processor for use with commercial propane feedstock and integrated it with a residential fuel cell supplied by Plug Power of Latham, New York.

Fuel Cell Technology Transfer Plan


A technology transfer plan for propane-powered fuel cells ensures the propane industry's readiness to meet the technical, regulatory, distribution, and customer service needs of early fuel cell technology adopters. To develop this technology transfer plan, researchers identified cost-effective options to meet the regulatory and technical requirements of fuel cell installations and produced a propane marketer business plan.

Market Assessment: Propane Distributed Generation


The Propane Distributed Generation Market Assessment is an evaluation of the technologies, markets, and trends for propane-fueled distributed generation applications of less than 1 megawatt. The study estimated the market and propane volume potential for the different distributed generation market segments. This research provides the basis for the development of a commercialization plan to help the propane industry realize the potential market for propane-fueled distributed generation.

Micro-Channel Reformer for Fuel Cells


Micro-channel reforming of propane can achieve highly efficient and tightly controlled reformer reactions in a very compact unit. Researchers demonstrated the technical feasibility of a micro-channel propane reformer for fuel cells and identified issues that need to be addressed when the technology reaches commercialization.

Molten Carbonate Propane-Powered Fuel Cell


A 200-kilowatt molten carbonate fuel cell operating on propane fuel has been designed to use a two-tank storage system. The fuel cell is undergoing a 33-month, Navy-funded demonstration testing and analysis at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii.

Off-Grid Residential Fuel Cell Demonstration


Fuel cells can serve as a whole-home energy source for edge-of-grid residences. The Delaware County Electric Cooperative and Mirabito Fuel Group demonstrated the load management capabilities of fuel cell power systems with heat recovery in a typical New York edge-of-grid residence, measured and reported the fuel cell’s technical performance, and analyzed the system’s economic viability.

Propane Fuel Cell Based on Methanol System


Using the IdaTech FCS 1200 PEM methanol system as the basis, researchers developed, demonstrated, evaluated, and conducted emissions testing of a 1-kilowatt fuel cell system that uses propane. Researchers also investigated solutions to issues involved with reforming commercial propane and constructed a fuel cell system utilizing commercial propane as a feedstock.

Propane Fuel Cells for Remote Sites


Fuel cells can provide the energy necessary to accommodate power, heat and air conditioning, restrooms, drinking water facilities, and wastewater pumping systems in remote locations. Researchers replaced a 30-kilowatt generator at a remote Forest Service work center with a 10-kilowatt (two 5-kilowatt fuel cells) propane-powered solid oxide fuel cell system to demonstrate the feasibility of propane-powered fuel cells to provide affordable, lower-emission power and heat at small, off-grid sites.

Telecom Fuel Cell Power Systems


A 3.6-kilowatt fuel cell system powered by commercial-grade propane was developed to meet the power demands of the telecommunications industry. Researchers developed and demonstrated the system at a telecommunications site to help accelerate the development of commercially available propane fuel processors for integration in systems produced by fuel cell manufacturers.