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Sprint nabs $7.3M grant for hydrogen fuel cells at cell sites

Chris Ziegler
April 21, 2009
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The US Department of Energy is feeling generous with some $41.9 million worth of cold, hard cash in a round of grants aimed at advancing fuel cell tech, and Sprint ended up scoring some $7.3 million of it -- the only carrier to do so. Carriers and hydrogen fuel cells don't seem like a natural fit at first, but it turns out that backup power at cell sites is kind of a big deal, and fuel cells are a perfect fit for a reliable, long-running, zero-emission solution. Interestingly, Sprint has been really into this for a while now -- it's their third awarded grant, and it turns out that they've had fuel cells deployed at sites since way back in 2005 (and they've even got 12 patents under their belt to prove it). Most current sites offer up to 15 hours of power in the event of an emergency using low-pressure hydrogen tanks, and the carrier says that it'll use the latest cash infusion to work with its partners to boost that up to 72 hours. Probably worse ways for the government to spend $7.3 million, when you think about it (say, on no-bid contracts for surplus eraser heads for Number 2 pencils, for instance).

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