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Fuel cell power helps bank make money

fuel cell
The fuel cell system is "hot," not standby, feeding its redundant power into the bank's internal circuits.   

June 30, 1999
Web posted at: 5:22 p.m. EDT (2122 GMT)


A fuel cell power system that is 100 to 1,000 times more reliable than traditional electricity sources will help a credit card processing bank serve its customers better and be more profitable.

First National Bank of Omaha, Neb., has elected to use a fuel cell system from Sure Power Corporation of Danbury, Conn., to run its computer system that processes millions of dollars in transactions every day.

The system produces reliable power 99.9999 percent of the time, giving it a reliability rating of "six 9s," according to the bank. Typical combination set-ups of electricity from the utility grid and back-up generators is "three 9s."

"This is a highly reliable power source," said Dennis Hughes, director of property management for the bank. "Being a large credit card processor, doing $6 million an hour in transactions, our computers have to work."

A conventional uninterruptible power supply system has 63 minutes of down time a year, whereas the Sure Power High Availability Power System is down only .31 to 3.18 seconds a year, said Hughes.

All told, U.S. businesses lose about $29 billion a year from computer failures due to power outages. For example, if a consumer goes into the Gap to make a purchase and the First National Bank of Omaha's computer system is down, the Gap will be unable to make the sale. The Gap not only loses the sale, but may also lose the customer due to poor customer service, said Hughes.

Natural gas powers the four-fuel-cell system, each cell capable of producing 200 kilowatts of electricity. The only byproducts of the system are heat and pure water.

According to a study conducted by Joseph Romm of the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions, the Sure Power system reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 46 percent a year compared to emissions of traditional uninterruptible power supplies and their standby diesel generators.

Being an on-site power system allows users to run independently of the public utility grid, ensuring that, no matter what happens to the grid, a company will not lose power and will continue to operate.

Does the system really work? "About two weeks ago, we had a series of brown outs," said Hughes. "The fuel cells were able to reconfigure and there was no loss of power. They kept right on chugging away with no disruption."

Copyright 1999, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved

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First National Bank of Omaha
Sure Power Corporation
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