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EU-funding for research of pro-environmental fuel cells

30.01.2007


The European Union has awarded a grant of 5.8 Million Euro to a European consortium to develop Large Solid Oxide Fuel Cell-based (SOFC) power plants. The project “Towards a Large SOFC Power Plant” lasts for three years, and it was started on January 1, 2007. Total budget of the project is 11 Million Euros. 

The project focuses on materials, components and systems required for efficient, reliable and cost effective large scale SOFC power plants. Systems design, balance of plant component engineering, such as heat exchangers, and the processes and materials required for low cost stack production are included in the project. Possibility for stack production will be critical for the successful commercialization of the concept. Therefore, the project focuses among other things to production of large quantities of stack for non-pressurized CHP units and pressurized units producing only power. Reviewing the issues of grid connection, fuels and environmental impact are also included in the project.

SOFC-based power plants are currently under rapid development. First demonstrations can be expected in the end of the decade. Sizes of the plants will range from 20 – 50 kW to 250 kW and up to 1 MW, using pressurized and non-pressurized technologies. These units will be suitable both for CHP and power-only in distributed generation applications. The units are expected to be commercialized in the middle of the next decade. Success of the units will be based on their operational benefits of high fuel efficiencies, low emissions, multi-fuel capabilities and utilization of bio-fuels including gas from biomass gasification and natural gas. 

The research consortium coordinated by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland comprises nine collaborators from European countries: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Wärtsilä Corporation, Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems Ltd, Topsoe Fuel Cell A/S, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Dipartimento di Ingegneria Chimica e di Processo "G.B. Bonino" - Università di Genova, BOSAL RESEARCH nv, Verteco Oy and Inmatec Technologies GmbH.

DESCRIPTION OF PARTNERS


VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is a contract research organisation involved in many international assignments. With its 2700 employees, VTT provides a wide range of technology and applied research services for its clients, private companies, institutions and the public sector. Turnover is 225 million Euro. It serves annually over 5000 domestic and foreign customers. The research covers a broad range of technologies: information & communication, energy, industrial processes and systems, materials and manufacturing, biotechnology and life sciences, as well as building and transport. 

Wärtsilä enhances the business of its customers by providing them with complete lifecycle power solutions. When creating better and environmentally compatible technologies, Wärtsilä focuses on the marine and energy markets with products and solutions as well as services. Through innovative products and services, Wärtsilä sets out to be the most valued business partner of all its customers. This is achieved by the dedication of more than 13,000 professionals manning 130 Wärtsilä locations in close to 70 countries around the world.

Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems Limited (RRFCS) is developing solid-oxide fuel cell (SOFC) systems for megawatt scale, stationary power generation applications. The systems will be based on its’ patented, low-cost SOFC technology in combination with specialist turbo-machinery resulting in an SOFC ‘hybrid’.

Topsoe Fuel Cell is a wholly owned subsidiary of Haldor Topsøe A/S. The company is dedicated to development, manufacturing and marketing of solid oxide fuel cells. Topsoe Fuel Cell has a highly skilled technical staff of 40 individuals. Back office services and supplementary technical competences, for instance within fuel processing, is provided by the mother company, Haldor Topsøe A/S. Additional best-in-class technical competence is secured via an exclusive collaboration with Risoe National Laboratory, where 50 employees are engaged in R&D within SOFC.

The Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ) is a leading research institution in the European Union with about 4300 staff members. Energy technology is one of the main topics in research, development and demonstrations. This is in the context of the overall research goals “protection of the environment and natural resources” and “economy and safety”. Over the past 15 years, FZJ has been heavily involved in Solid Oxide Fuel Cell programmes as own development subject, in bilateral, European and world-wide cooperations. The Jülich planar SOFC concept has set world records in stack power, operation time and performance with systems developed for stationary combined power and heat systems. Auxiliary power applications in mobile applications are a new development field that is additionally pursued in recent years.

Bosal is one of the world's leading manufacturers of tow bars, complete exhaust systems for passenger cars, catalytic converters, complete exhaust systems for trucks and industrial applications, roof bars and roof racks, jacks and toolkits, cabins, irrigation equipment, precision steel tubing and warehouse racking systems. Established in 1923 in Alkmaar, the group is Dutch registered, headquartered in Lummen, Belgium. The annual turnover in 2005 was in excess of €815 million. The Bosal Group employs more than 6,000 people and has 42 manufacturing plants and 27 distribution centres.

University of Genoa (UNIGE). The Faculty of Engineering in Genova, established in 1870 with programmes in Chemical, Civil, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering introduced in early 1900, is second in the ranking of Italian Faculty of Engineering. The Thermochemical Power Group, TPG, at UNIGE is a joint collaboration between the Department of Machinery and Energy Systems (DIMSET) and the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering (DICHEP). The main research fields at TPG are: gas turbine based cycle design and optimization, fuel cell, fuel processing, hybrid systems modeling and testing, thermoeconomic and environomic analysis. Since June 2004 TPG is the University Technology Centre of Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems Ltd.

Verteco specialises in the most demanding power electronics applications for distributed power generation especially in alternative energy such as wind and sea power. The company concentrates on providing power with consistent high quality and seeks to constantly improve the quality of its power solutions to directly benefit our customers. Verteco creates value that is hard to beat. Because of its sharp focus on power converters, Verteco has a unique perspective by providing enhanced solutions and services to the industry. Verteco provides individually tailored and bespoke solutions to meet the exact needs of every application. Every solution is based on robust inverter technology developed by the leading global specialist in customised AC drives, Vacon Plc.

INMATEC Technologies GmbH. INMATEC was established in the late 1990s to undertake work on ceramic materials development and processing. It has developed expertise in the field of advanced ceramic materials for injected molded parts and extruded parts, this includes the processes for manufacturing feedstock. These materials and processes have been developed for a range of European industries including the automotive industry, where INMATEC has worked with major global automotive businesses, and the medical and electronics industries, again in Europe, but also outside of Europe. INMATEC is an SME located in Germany employing 20 people.

 

 

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Rolf Rosenberg
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