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AREVA tests fuel cell for deep-sea applications

News brief


October 30, 2009

AREVA tested its fuel cell technology* on October 12-22, 2009, in a propulsion application for the "Idefx", an autonomous undersea vehicle (AUV) operated by French marine science research institute Ifremer.

Tested in operational conditions in the Mediterranean Sea, the fuel cell lived up to its designers’ expectations and proved its reliability. The AUV dived seven times, cumulating 65 hours of operation at the surface and at various depths without damage. For the first time ever, the hydrogen and oxygen bottles required for its operation were filled out at sea before each dive. The tests also demonstrated the maintainability of the onboard system**.

The level of performance achieved was a result of the highly effective collaboration between AREVA and Ifremer in an R&D program supported by the French national research agency ANR and by the competitive clusters, Mer PACA and Capenergies.

These encouraging results open up commercial prospects for solutions to power submarines and electric ships (or even aircraft), based on fuel-cell and hydrogen technology.

* A fuel cell is a device used to generate an electric current by transforming the energy and heat from a continuous chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen into electrical energy. Because operating a fuel cell produces only water, it constitutes an especially clean energy source

** Maintainability is the capacity of a system to be easily and quickly repaired