Fuel Cell Today reports from the final day of the Fuel Cell Seminar
The final day of the Seminar, and attendance numbers at the start are
well down on previous days. But there are a number of potentially
interesting talks left and I think that those who stayed on will not
regret at their decision to forego a day at the beach. Of the three
tracks running, I picked residential applications.
First up was Mark Davis of NIST, presenting their TRYNSYS empirical
modelling work on residential PEM fuel cell efficiency. TRYNSYS is a
comprehensive model which links not only the performance of the fuel
cell but also other ancillaries such as thermal storage and pumps. The
work simulated expected household heat and electricity loads for two
individual fuel cell systems. NIST plans to use their empirical models
to validate a proposed rating methodology for residential fuel cell
systems for a variety of applications and climate regions in order to
gain a greater understanding of the economic feasibility of residential
fuel cell systems, including SOFC systems. As we move closer towards
full market deployment of fuel cells, the need for this kind of
enabling work will become increasingly important and the work of NIST
has the potential to provide a valuable service to all developers
acting in this field.
Gordon Calundann of PEMEAS was up next. His topic was high temperature
PEM fuel cells, the performance and durability of the PEMEAS Celtec
MEA, and the latest commercial developments concerning their Celtec
product. Celtec-P is their first commercially available MEA for high
temperature PEM fuel cells, and is aimed at stationary power supply,
UPS and APU applications. PEMEAS use a gel-based polymer which allows
them to produce rolled films with a high acid content which can
potentially be made in large volumes at relatively low costs. The
viability of these films is currently in the region of 99% and above,
and they continue to try and raise this proportion. The chief benefits
of this system, besides ease of production, is its high CO tolerance,
low humidification (and thus low water management requirement) and
robustness against temperature fluctuations. PEMEAS are currently
working with Vaillant, Plug Power, ClearEdge Power, and UltraCell. They
are currently developing a successor to the Celtec P-1000 MEA, which
will be called... the Celtec P-2000.
At this point I looked behind me and the auditorium was now fairly
full! Looks like it was just a slow start today.
Next was the turn of Nippon Oil's work on development of a 1kW PEMFC
fuel cell system based on hydrogen production from kerosene. Kerosene
is available nationwide in Japan, especially in colder northern regions
where it is used mainly as a heating fuel. Kerosene has a longer
hydrocarbon chain than NG, so the steam reformation reaction rate is
lower. Consequently, a higher reforming temperature is needed. Nippon
Oil have been using a ruthenium-based catalyst in order to achieve
higher hydrogen yields for operation in the 500-600 degrees C range. In
March 2006 they developed a commercial SOFC system in collaboration
with Ebara with the great name of the "Eneos Ecoboy". This is a
950W system with integrated power management, a power generation
efficiency of 35%, and a very impressive total conversion efficiency of
81%. The impact of the energy management system is immense, raising
system efficiency by up to 10%.
The last presentation before the break was by Karl Foger of Ceramic
Fuel Cells Limited (CFCL). CFCL is based in Melbourne, Australia, and
have a staff of around 100. As an interesting aside, Karl said that
CFCL are considering setting up a fabrication plant somewhere in Europe
as they see markets for their products there are nearer than in other
parts of the world. CFCL develop small SOFC systems based on a fuel
cell generator and essential balance of plant products aimed primarily
at the domestic market but they are also considering going into APUs.
The focus of the presentation was based on the idea of distribution
energy networks and the great need to increase the efficiency of
domestic energy use. Karl stressed the need to examine home heating and
electricity trends and to consider carefully what future domestic loads
are likely to look like. Modern new-build housing regulations have
radically altered heat requirements especially (the trend has been
downward), so when considering a domestic fuel cell system for the
future, it is important that heat output is not excessive. CFCL are
focussing on flexible SOFC designs, a low heat-to-power ration, high
operating hours and grid connectivity using existing fuelling
infrastructures. The choice of SOFC fuel cells at CFCL is based on
their high generation efficiency, which can be as high a 50% given
careful system optimisation.
Karl ran out a list of advances in CFCL's current product. In the
stack, electrical efficiencies of up to 50% have been achieved, with a
fuel utilisation of up to 85%. In the BoP, 75% less air is required
than in their prototype model, the burner is 60% smaller, and the steam
generator is 50% smaller, easier to manufacture, with lower cost. The
heat exchanger is 40% smaller, more efficient and cheaper, and the
insulation has 50% lower heat losses. These are impressive figures, but
perhaps a better measuring stick would be to compare their product
against comparable and contemporary rival products.
After the break, Masahiro Ogawa of Toshiba outlined the Toshiba PEM
Demonstration Programme. Toshiba can currently deliver 50 units per
month, and they are developing a system concept to be introduced into
multi house dwellings equipped with a central hydrogen generator as
well as a hydrogen station for automobiles.
Shinji Nishikawa of the New Energy Foundation (NEF) then presented the
current status of the Large Scale Stationary Fuel Cell Demonstration
Programme in Japan. Shinji presented policies and targets for the
diffusion of fuel cells up to 2020. METI and NEDO have been funding the
programme since April 2005, with NEF in a coordinating role. The
purpose of the Programme is to determine PEFC commercialisation
problems by analysis of individual house data, and to expedite the
transition to mass production.
The Programme has a detailed set of requirements for participating fuel
cell technologies. The 1kW class PEMFCs for residential installations
must have a demonstrable durability over 2 years, and the manufacturers
must be able to supply at least 30 units per year. I noted at this
point that 1kW sounds like a rather small capacity for residential
applications. Maybe Japanese homes are more energy efficient than those
in the West?
In FY2006, 1200 units will be deployed in 777 sites including 75 which
run off kerosene. In FY2007, over 1000 demonstration sites are planned.
By any measure, this is a massive demonstration programme.
The last presentation of the FC Seminar 2006 was by Scott Kenner of
Concurrent Technologies Corporation. He talked about component failure
analysis from the US Army ERDC-CERL Residential PEMFC Demonstration
Programme. Not an easy task; as Scott pointed out, he was the only
thing between delegates and the beaches of Hawaii.
The Programme has seen the installation of 91 PEM units at 56 sites -
contribute data over a series of 12 month demonstration periods. The
aim is to assess the role of PEMs in DoDs missions, and is in some ways
similar to the DoD UTC PC-25 PAFC demonstration programme which took
began in the late 1990s.
Each installation in the PEM demonstration programme was provided by
manufacturers, who had to provide turn-key packages. They have to have
a minimum of 90% availability, come with a comprehensive maintenance
contract, and manufacturers had to provide detailed monthly reports.
3 generic systems were tested in 2 categories: primary power based on
natural gas and LPG, and backup power systems based on hydrogen which
did not provide any CHP and which operated for only 2 hours or so per
day. Logan Energy was the major contractor, also Nuvera, Plug Power,
and others. System availabilities in FY01 and FY03 approached 90%.
System outage times varied markedly depending on where units were
located and therefore on how rapidly the contractor could access them
and bring them back online. Analysis is ongoing, and the project will
be wrapped up in next 12-18 months, with more systems contributing data
over a broader range of products.
And that completes the final day of the Fuel Cell Seminar 2006. I have
enjoyed it, learned a lot, and am not looking forwards to the 22 hour