Articles & Case Studies

The Environment Agency benefits from fuel cell technology

Posted: Friday 28th October 2011

UPS Systems has installed a direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) at the Environment Agency’s Woolston Weir fishery. The fuel cell will aid the Environment Agency’s conservation work by providing power to telemetry and CCTV equipment at an ‘eel pass’ to monitor the endangered species’ journey upstream to fresh water.

The number of young eels migrating into European rivers has fallen to less than 5% of 1980s levels, the exact causes of which are as yet unclear. Ease of movement for elvers into important water courses for protection, reproduction and growth is a key factor in maximising their breeding success. The newly designed eel pass at Woolston has been installed to allow the easy movement of eels between stretches of river, overcoming the concern that older-style flap gates can pose a significant obstacle for eels in their migratory movements. To monitor the success of the new eel pass, the Environment Agency has installed a monitoring and telemetry system at the Woolston site, which uses CCTV to record and monitor the eels’ journeys providing data about its success.

To provide power to the eel pass, UPS Systems has installed an EFOY Pro 2200 DMFC alongside two load-carrying batteries hooked up in parallel. The DMFC acts as a charger to ensure the batteries are kept at optimum voltage at all times. The system provides continuous power to a water pump that oxygenates a holding tank where the eels are counted and checked. It also powers a web cam and the telemetry system.

“Fuel cells offer the potential to run electrical devices at remote locations where laying in mains supply is too costly and batteries alone cannot supply enough power or duration,” said Wesley Irving from the Environment Agency’s Evidence Directorate’s Innovation Team. “As the methanol fuel is increasingly being produced from renewable power we can consider our remote monitoring stations as running on clean energy. This fits well with our environmental policies for carbon reduction.”

Tom Sperrey, Managing Director at UPS Systems, said, “Unlike their ‘electric’ namesakes, glass eels don’t generate their own power. Instead, the DMFC offers the Environment Agency long runtimes and zero emissions so it won’t interfere with the eels’ natural habitat.”

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