The U.S. power delivery market has its eye on a hydrogen fuel economy, and two companies are using this energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly fuel to develop power generation solutions.

The Dearborn, Mich.-based operation of Ballard Power Systems, a Vancouver, B.C.-based fuel cell manufacturer, teamed up with Ford Power Products to invent a hydrogen-powered gen-set. Ballard launched the gen-set in August 2002, has begun initial beta testing, and is now preparing for the UL approval process.

“There may be other companies that have worked on developing hydrogen-powered engines, but we believe Ballard is the first to take it out of the development stage and bring it to the standby generator market in this power range,” says Ross Witschonke, vice president of sales and marketing for Ballard.

The 156kVA gen-set is based on Ford's 6.8-liter production engine, which runs at about 30% to 40% efficiency, has the same moving parts as in a standard dry fuel industrial engine, and is comparable in terms of maintenance. It differs, however, in the fuel delivery and fuel type. Hydrogen, rather than natural gas, powers the gen-set, which lowers the emissions but increases the capital cost. Witschonke says that the hydrogen-powered gen-set will primarily power non-continuous and emergency backup applications until hydrogen is more readily available in the United States.

“Right now, hydrogen isn't being used in large quantities,” Witschonke says. “We plan to help expand the hydrogen infrastructure by continuing the development of the hydrogen engine for stationary applications.”

Product Specs


  • Height: 60 in.

  • Width: 48 in.

  • Length: 146 in.

  • Weight: <3,900 lbs


  • -22° to 104°F (-30° to 40°C)


  • Target less than 69 dBA at 23 ft


  • Pure hydrogen gas


  • Circuit breaker (480V/100A)


  • Three years or 2,000 hr (whichever comes first)


  • Single unit, standby (non-emergency) rating

3-Phase Power

  • 125kW, 0.8 power factor, 156kVA at 480V

Single-Phase Power

  • 90kW, unity power factor, 90kVA at 240V


  • Motor starting and fault clearing (300% for 20 sec)


  • Voltage (480 L-L/277 L-N, ±1.0% typical)

  • Nominal voltage adjustment (±5% by potentiometer)

  • Frequency (60 Hz and 50 Hz)

  • Frequency regulation (±1% typical)

  • Waveform distortion (<5% THD)