New York Hospital Installs 200kW Fuel Cell

North Central Bronx Hospital installs unit to provide back-up power and becomes third unit to come online in New York and Westchester Counties under New York Power Authority program.

Published: 26-Dec-2000

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 26, 2000--North Central Bronx Hospital (NCBH) gained the distinction on Thursday of being among the first medical facilities in the country to generate electricity from a fuel cell power plant, a nonpolluting source of power that uses an electrochemical process, without combustion.

"This project demonstrates the suitability of this cutting-edge technology for institutions like hospitals that have zero tolerance for power glitches," said C.D. "Rapp" Rappleyea, chairman and chief executive officer of the New York Power Authority, which financed and installed the fuel cell. "We think fuel cells will play an important role in the future--not only in terms of reliable power, but in providing an environmentally benign alternative to traditional sources of power. That's why we're moving aggressively, under Governor Pataki's direction, to share this technology with our public customers."

The $900,000 fuel cell, co-funded with a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE), is supplementing the electricity the hospital ordinarily receives from the electric power grid. It will also demonstrate the ability to provide backup power, in addition to the medical facility's emergency diesel generators, in the event of problems with the electric grid.

"It's difficult to place a price tag on the benefits of having this clean and dependable source of electricity for the hospital's diverse power needs," said Joseph S. Orlando, senior vice president, North Bronx Healthcare Network, consisting of NCBH, Jacobi Medical Center and five community health centers. "Obviously, it's essential for us to have uninterrupted power for our operating and emergency rooms, medical equipment and computers. Our patients' lives depend on it, and this fuel cell will help to ensure they have it."

The 200-kilowatt fuel cell is the third in a series of such units that NYPA has installed for public facilities in New York City and Westchester County. The other two--also co-funded by the USDOE--are at the Central Park Police Precinct in Manhattan and the Westchester County Wastewater Treatment Plant in Yonkers.

The Central Park unit operates independent of the electric power grid, meeting the total energy needs of the police precinct, which had been dependent on an underground power line that was inadequate for its current and future electricity requirements. The unit in Yonkers supplements the power the wastewater treatment facility receives off of the grid as well as from a roof-mounted solar power project that NYPA also installed there.

Like the fuel cell in Central Park, the one at the North Central Bronx Hospital uses natural gas to produce electricity. Hydrogen obtained from the fuel combines with oxygen in the air to produce the power, with the only emissions being water and heat.

The installation in Yonkers is the world's first commercial fuel cell to use anaerobic digester gas, a byproduct of wastewater treatment, to produce electricity. Last June, the New York Chapter of the Association of Energy Engineers selected the installation as its Environmental Project of the Year, for harnessing a waste gas that would otherwise be flared, releasing combustion products into the air.

The Power Authority ranks among the cleanest electric utilities in the nation, according to data submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with most of its electricity hydropower.

In addition to the three fuel cell units, NYPA has installed 18 solar power projects for public customers in various parts of the state, including the one in Yonkers. It's also a leader in promoting development and use of electric vehicles and in undertaking energy-efficiency measures for its customers.

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