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Cox Enterprises has announced the addition of five fuel cells at its Cox Communications outlet in San Diego. The fuel cells add to nine other alternative energy installations by the company in the state, which it says prevent 15,500 tons of carbon emissions per year and include two 400kW fuel cell units existing at its Federal Boulevard location.

The fuel cells are Bloom Energy Servers, according to a release from Cox, and convert fuel into electricity via an electrochemical process without the use of combustion. The cells are powered by biogas, which is produced by the breakdown of dead plant and animal matter, animal dung, and kitchen waste.

Biogas is primarily comprised of methane and carbon dioxide, and Cox touts it as an additional step toward eco-friendliness due to its organic nature. The gas can be compressed for use as a fuel in much the same way as natural gas. Supporters of its use in the UK believe it has the potential to replace as much as 17% of the petroleum used for vehicle fuel.

The State Energy Conservation office in Texas estimates that the daily manure of a single cow could provide 3 kilowatt hours of energy – by comparison it takes about 2.4 kilowatt hours to power a 100-watt light bulb for 24 hours. Most biogas in the United States at present, however, is harvested from landfills, and accounts for only about 0.6 percent of the nation’s natural gas consumption.

The new fuel cell units include two 200kW cells that entirely power a Cox Communications facility on Copley Drive near MCAS Miramar and three more of the same capacity that provide 90 percent of the power for a location on North Cuyamaca Street in El Cajon.

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