Like the internal combustion engine in the last century, fuel cell systems have the potential to revolutionize the way power is generated for buildings in the 21st century, according to Michael Ellis, author of a new book on fuel cells published by ASHRAE (Atlanta). "Fuel cell systems offer modularity, high efficiency across a range of load conditions, minimum environmental impact, and opportunities for integration into cogeneration systems," Ellis said.

Fuel Cells for Building Applications provides building designers with information they need to identify fuel cell applications that will yield economic and environmental benefits. There are four types of fuel cell technology applicable for building systems—proton exchange member fuel cells, phosphoric acid fuel cells, molten carbonate fuel cells, and solid oxide fuel cells.

The book describes these technologies, their performance and operating conditions, materials of construction, system integration issues, and demonstration and commercialization projects. It includes an assessment of fuel cell systems for cogeneration applications. According to Ellis, progress is being made in the development and commercialization of fuel cell systems for buildings, as well as in the development of a regulatory infrastructure to support the introduction of the technology.