NSN and Ballard develop fuel cell backup power for mobile networks

Fuel cell technology believed to have advantages over conventional battery and diesel generators and is designed to support mobile networks during commercial grid outages

NSN and Ballard develop fuel cell backup power for mobile networks

Nokia Siemens Networks is working with Ballard Power Systems to develop mobile networks that can continue to operate during power blackouts. 

Japanese operator NTT Docomo has evaluated the Nokia Siemens Networks Flexi Multiradio base station site offering with integrated fuel cell backup for potential commercial deployment. The solution has been installed at a NTT Docomo R&D center test site in Japan’s Yokosuka Research Park (YRP). 

Backup power solutions based on fuel cell technology deliver a number of advantages over conventional batteries and diesel generators. These include higher reliability across a wide range of operating conditions, lower maintenance costs, longer operating life as well as reduced size, weight, installation footprint, noise signature and environmental impact. 

The fuel cell weight and size are significantly less in comparison to existing lead acid batteries that are typically used in many base stations to provide backup power for extended outages. The base station and fuel cell combination developed by Nokia Siemens Networks with Ballard can provide 4.5kW of power for approximately 40 hours on a single tank of fuel.

A fuel cell is a device that converts the chemical energy from a fuel into electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen or another oxidizing agent. Hydrogen is the most common fuel, but hydrocarbons such as natural gas and alcohols such as methanol are sometimes used. Fuel cells are different from batteries in that they require a constant source of fuel and oxygen to run, but they can produce electricity continually for as long as these inputs are supplied.

‘Mobile networks can be vital when a natural disaster strikes, and power outages make other forms of communication difficult,’ said Mark Donaldson, head of energy solutions for mobile broadband networks at Nokia Siemens Networks. ‘Integrating fuel cells with our base stations can significantly increase the resilience of the mobile networks we provide.’ Larry Stapleton, vice president of sales, Ballard, added:

‘Our fuel cell systems provide power for extended periods during outages caused by natural calamities and commercial grid failures. The collaboration with Nokia Siemens Networks has helped us leverage our service and integration expertise in order to deliver an emergency-ready alternative power solution for mobile networks.’ 

The solution from Nokia Siemens Networks and Ballard Power Systems has already received the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) statutory approval in Japan. After delivering and setting up the fuel cell at a test site in YRP, Nokia Siemens Networks participated in and cleared DOCOMO’s evaluation tests.

Written by Wireless magazine
Wireless magazine

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