New UPS Powered by Fuel Cell

Oct. 1, 2003
COSTA MESA, Calif.-- MGE UPS SYSTEMS INC. the technology leader in providing unsurpassed power protection solutions to computer data centers, telecommunications

COSTA MESA, Calif.-- MGE UPS SYSTEMS INC. the technology leader in providing unsurpassed power protection solutions to computer data centers, telecommunications and industrial operations, and Ballard Power Systems, the world leader in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell technology celebrated the official launch of field trials for MGE's Evolution Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) powered by Ballard's Nexa® RM Series fuel cell modules. The event included a series of live demonstrations for reporters and customers in New York City beginning with a simulated blackout on the 21st floor of a midtown high-rise. During the "blackout," the 3KVA Evolution UPS provided power to a rack of computer networking equipment and a large plasma screen display while Ballard's AirGen(tm) Portable Fuel Cell generator kept a small refrigerator, lighting and other small electronics operating for the duration of the hour-plus presentation.

As part of the first demonstration of these unique hydrogen-fueled systems in a high-rise environment, MGE announced the availability of the rack-based Evolution/Nexa RM systems for field trials. By integrating Ballard's recently introduced Nexa RM Series power modules with MGE's proven UPS platform, MGE will be able to offer a realistic and reliable alternative to meet the growing customer demand for long-duration power backup for business critical applications. In addition, the companies highlighted the ease of operation and commercial availability of Ballard's AirGen backup fuel cell generators through MGE's extensive sales network. MGE also offers service and maintenance contracts for these products.

"Recent events where extended blackouts struck millions of people and thousands of businesses have served as a compelling reminder of how much we depend on the digital infrastructure and the electricity that powers it," explained Jack Pouchet, MGE's director of marketing. "In today's competitive economy, business continuity is key and new technologies are required to assure continuous operations. Traditional solutions for long-duration backup have involved UPSs with large battery banks or large diesel generators, both of which have many environmental and operational limitations. By incorporating the established power protection and communication capabilities of our Evolution UPS with Ballard's innovative Nexa RM Series fuel cell modules, we can provide a more compact, more reliable, lower maintenance, extended-run, and zero-emission solution that also offers lower total cost of ownership over the life of the product."

The integrated fuel cell UPS system provides 3KVA of power in a convenient rack-mounted package that is well suited for providing continuous power to small networks, internetworking equipment, call center infrastructure and other applications where business continuity is critical. Because fuel cells will operate as long as fuel is supplied, duration of backup is determined by the size and quantity of fuel storage tanks and typically ranges from 4 to 24 hours. Hydrogen is provided via an adapter kit from standard 31-inch high Q- or 51-inch high K-style pressurized gas cylinders from Praxair, Inc. (, the largest industrial gases company in North and South America, or other existing hydrogen gas suppliers. The pipes used for delivery of the gas to the fuel cell power modules can be rigid, flexible, or any combination as required by the specific site. The Nexa RM Series produces a DC voltage that is then bused to the Evolution. This implementation combines state-of-the-art PEM fuel cell technology, with an established line-interactive UPS product, to provide a high level of reliability as well as cost and space optimization.

"Teaming up with MGE to provide this complete power protection solution utilizing Ballard® fuel cells for extended-run backup power validates the commercial viability and appeal of our unique offering," observed Ballard's president and chief executive officer, Dennis Campbell. "In addition, we have the benefit of MGE's recognized global expertise about backup power requirements for mission critical applications, and the support of their worldwide factory service network, and their well established UPS power electronics to assure uninterrupted power."

Ballard's Nexa RM Series is ideally suited to meet the needs of the UPS market, where the limitations of batteries have long presented difficulties for applications requiring backup times in excess of one hour. Like the Evolution UPS, the scalable Nexa RM Series is designed for installation in industry standard 19-inch racks and includes electrical connections, N+1 redundancy capability, and a host of safety features. Each 1kW Nexa RM Series module has ±24VDC output and produces 40A of current. Three of the 85-pound, 5U (8.7-inch) modules are used in the Evolution configuration. The line-interactive Evolution UPS itself uses only 2U (3.5 inches) of rack space and weighs 80.4 pounds. It includes connectors to accept DC input from the Nexa RM Series modules and six standard 15A NEMA receptacles as well as USB, serial and SNMP/web connection options for advanced monitoring and control with MGE's Solution-Pac or Management-Pac Power Management Software.Power distribution options with additional receptacles are also available.

"Although MGE and Ballard's first product offerings, the AirGen(tm) fuel cell generator and the fuel cell-powered Evolution, are available for 1 to 3 KVA power requirements respectively, the flexibility and versatility of Ballard's Nexa RM Series will enable us to offer increased power levels, up to 30KVA, with our online UPS models or with the Nexa RM Series unit as a component for utility or telecommunications back-up power in the very near future," Pouchet added.

Field trial units of the fuel cell-powered Evolution and Nexa RM Series are available now, with commercial production slated for 2004. Production models of the 1kW AirGen fuel cell generator for industrial use are available now from MGE. Recently named as an authorized worldwide (excluding Japan) distributor and service provider for Ballard fuel cell generators, MGE offers service and support for Ballard's Nexa RM Series and AirGen fuel cell generator products from more than 170 factory service centers throughout the world. For more information, contact MGE at 800-523-0142 or via their web site at:

MGE UPS SYSTEMS, INC. is a world leader in providing high quality power solutions that increase power availability and system uptime to PCs and enterprise-wide networks, mission-critical telecommunication systems, and industrial/manufacturing processes. To learn more about MGE's power protection, conversion and distribution solutions, visit MGE's Web site at: .

Ballard Power Systems is recognized as the world leader in developing, manufacturing and marketing zero-emission proton exchange membrane fuel cells. Additional information may be found on Ballard's website at