A new mobile lighting system features a fuel cell running on pure hydrogen, resulting in zero-emission electrical power. The fuel cell produces electricity for an advanced, power-saving light-emitting plasma (LEP) lighting system and additional auxiliary power up to 2.5 kW, which allows extra equipment (such as power tools, public address systems, or security metal detectors) to be powered by the unit at the same time the system is providing illumination.

Current mobile lighting systems typically use diesel-fueled generators that produce greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide. In addition, diesel units are noisy and can create a safety hazard when construction personnel cannot hear oncoming traffic. It is estimated that a single hydrogen fuel cell-powered lighting system would offset 900 gallons of diesel fuel per year and completely eliminate soot, nitrogen oxide, and carbon dioxide emissions -- allowing the system to be used indoors in contrast to current diesel technology.

The prototype system has been tested in a variety of environments and has primarily focused on the entertainment, transportation, and airport sectors. The system was on the grounds of the Kennedy Space Center for the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, the 135th and final mission for the NASA Space Shuttle Program. The unit provided lighting in the international press area, and its auxiliary power was used to recharge camera battery packs.

This work was done by Sandia National Laboratories with industry partners Boeing, Multiquip Inc., Altergy Systems, Luxim Corp., Lumenworks Inc., Stray Light Optical Technologies, Golden State Energy, and Ovonic Hydrogen Solutions.

Watch a short video of the launch below.