PEM fuel cell

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MICRO CHP
MICRO CHP
the big picture
By Jeremy Harrison
Photo book

SOFC | PEM fuel cell

PEM fuel cells had for some time been considered the leading fuel cell technology for domestic CHP applications. It has been suggested by some that the exploitation of this technology for automotive applications would encourage the development of low cost PEM units for use in stationary applications. The same logic, however, has not brought the benefits of low cost ICE technology to micro CHP and it is difficult to see how the requirements of the automotive industry for low cost, short life, high power density, flexible output motive power units can be transferred to micro CHP where requirements for long life, low service and high efficiency are paramount.


However, the majority of fuel cells currently installed are of this type, albeit heavily subsidised by the Japanese Government. Performance to date has been variable, with some systems delivering disappointingly low savings. Both electrical and overall efficiencies have been relatively low, but for Japanese market conditions, PEM technology with its ability to modulate and cycle relatively quickly is still being pursued as a viable technology.

 

 TOSHIBA  BAXI INNOTECH  VIESSMANN  ELCORE

In common with other Japanese ENE FARM participants, Toshiba have now launched a nominal 700We PEM micro CHP with sales exceeding 4000 units in the subsidised Japanese market.

It is equipped with a supplementary heater to provide operational flexibility, incorporated in a separate cabinet which also houses the hot water storage tank.

A service life of 80,000 operational hours, equivalent to 10 years, is anticipated.

In 2011, following the Great Japan Earthquake, UPS functionality was added to the product, considerably accelerating sales.

Baxi Innotech announced a collaboration with Ballard in March 2009 to further develop their PEM package based on previous work by European Fuel Cells (previously Hamburg Gas Consult, formerly owned by EON AG, the German utility).

EFC had previously demonstrated a number of prototype units in apartment blocks in Hamburg, but Baxi have since demonstrated individual home units in UK and Germany with an electrical output of 2kWe, although current versions have a reduced electrical output of 1kWe.

In 2009, Baxi demonstrated the Gamma version of their product utilising the Ballard PEM stack, and continue development and demonstration of their PEM technology, most notably within the German CALLUX programme.

Following extensive development activities on fuel cells based on university designs, Viessmann abandoned in-house PEM fuel cell development in 2010. 

In September 2013 they announced their partnership with Panasonic, with the intention to integrate the market proven Japanese fuel cell stack into an integrated micro CHP package.

It was announced that the product, similar to the Japanese unit in performance, will become available from 2014 at an installed price of 35,000.

The Vitovalor 300-P product comprises two units, the fuel cell itself in the left hand unit and the hot water store, buffer tank and auxiliary boiler in the right.

Elcore have developed a high temperature PEM fuel cell with an unusually low electrical output of only 300We.

This might at first sight appear to offer little economic benefit.  However, the relatively low heat output (600Wt) is able to meet the demand for domestic hot water, so that the fuel cell can run continuously, resulting in an annual electrical output of 2400kWh, similar to a Stirling engine based product.

It is intended as an add-on to an existing heating system, rather than a replacement, so that the capital cost is relatively high compared with Stirling, but it may be suitable for homes with low space heating requirements or where domestic hot water alone is required.

700We

Electrical efficiency 35%

1kWe

Electrical efficiency 32%

1.7-20kWt

750We

Electrical efficiency 37% (LHV)

1000Wt +19kWt boiler

Thermal efficiency 53% (LHV)

300We

Electrical efficiency 33% (LHV)

600Wt

Thermal efficiency 65% (LHV)

Availability

Japan 2009

$20,000

Europe 2015?

 

Availability

Field Trials in Germany & UK

Series production and market launch planned for 2015

 

Availability

Germany April 2014 26,000 supply only, 36,000 including installation and VAT

EU 2015

 

Availability

2013 First field trial installation in ENEFIELD project

9000 installed

 

 DANTHERM POWER  PANASONIC  JX ENEOS  VAILLANT

In 2012, Ballard Power Systems, the Canadian PEM supplier, extended its controlling interest in Dantherm Power with Dantherm AS, acquiring Danfoss' shares in the joint venture.

So far Dantherm only offer short duration run time back up power products fuelled by Hydrogen or Methanol.

The Hydrogen fuelled products are available in 1.7, 2.5 and 5kWe configurations, whilst the Methanol version is available in 2.5 and 5kWe only.

The image below is of the outdoor unit.

As power only (air-cooled) products these are of course not micro CHP.  However, Dantherm is participating in a Danish Government sponsored field trial of micro CHP in residential applications.

Following large scale technical demonstrations of products from a number of manufacturers in the Japanese ENE FARM project, a few companies (foremost Panasonic, Toshiba, ENEOS) have launched products down-rated from 1kWe to around 700We (in order to minimise export).

All are equipped with a supplementary heater to provide operational flexibility, incorporated in a separate cabinet which also houses the hot water storage tank.

Products from each of the above manufacturers are now available in Japan at the equivalent of 25,000 with a Japanese government subsidy of around 7,000.

The Panasonic version now comprises two tall cabinets with a reduced overall volume.

In 2012 Panasonic announced the establishment of a European R&D facility.

Following large scale technical demonstrations of products from a number of manufacturers in the Japanese ENE FARM project, a few companies (foremost Panasonic, Toshiba, ENEOS) have launched products down-rated from 1kWe to around 700We (in order to minimise export).

JX also offer an SOFC based product with similar output, but higher electrical efficiency for exactly the same price.

In 2013 JX are believed to have abandoned PEM technology in favour of the higher efficiency SOFC product.

Vaillant, the European boiler manufacturer, established a partnership with PlugPower (USA) to integrate the PEM stack into an micro CHP system.  However, with a nominal electrical output of around 5kWe, the focus was on multi-family homes (small apartment blocks) comprising 4 or more homes.  The fuel cell is connected to a thermal store and a supplementary boiler, allowing the fuel cell to operate more or less continuously.. A number of these units were trialled as part of the EU funded VPP (Virtual Power Plant) project. 

Vaillant are now working with Staxera on SOFC technology having delayed plans to take their PEM technology to market. 

wpe6.jpg (20269 bytes)
Image source: Dantherm Power     Image source: Vaillant
 

700We

Electrical efficiency up to 40%

700We

Electrical efficiency 40%

1-4.6kWe : 25-50kWt

Availability

Denmark field trials 2013

Availability

Japan 2011

Europe 2014

Availability

Japan 2011

 

Page update 08 April 2015

     

 

 

MICRO CHP
MICRO CHP
the big picture
By Jeremy Harrison
Photo book

 

 

Contact : info@microchap.info

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This site was (partially) last updated on 12th August 2017 Jeremy Harrison