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Sprint Nextel to Expand Hydrogen Fuel Cell Deployment

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US network operator, Sprint says that it is the only wireless carrier to be awarded a grant, worth $7.3 million, from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding earmarked for fuel cell technology. This is the largest single grant awarded by the Department of Energy for this round of grant funding, which totaled $41.9 million. The grant funding will be used to expand Sprint's hydrogen fuel cell program at cell sites throughout the United States creating 72 hours of additional network resiliency.

The grant funding will be used to expand the number of Sprint cell sites which rely on hydrogen fuel cells for back-up power. These fuel cells are activated when service from the local electric utility is disrupted during severe weather or other natural disasters. Currently, most deployed hydrogen fuel cells are paired with low-pressure hydrogen tanks which provide around 15 hours of back-up power before needing refueling. As part of this grant, Sprint will work with hydrogen fuel cell manufacturers, tank providers and hydrogen suppliers to extend the unassisted run-time to 72 hours.

"Since 2005 Sprint has been a leader in the deployment of fuel cell technology. We have deployed more than 250 hydrogen fuel cells in our network, have been awarded a total of three Department of Energy grants to deploy new hydrogen fuel cell technologies and awarded 12 patents from the U.S. Patent Office that include hydrogen fuel cells," said Bob Azzi, senior vice president of Network at Sprint.

Recently, Sprint announced a set of ambitious environmental priorities that included reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 15 percent and securing 10 percent % of Sprint's energy needs from renewable sources by 2017.

"Sprint gets it - this alternative source of energy for mobile communications will not only help stimulate the nation's economy and rebuild America, but also help lead to a greener cleaner environment," Azzi continued.

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