Marketplace

  • Air Quality & Emissions Show (AQE) Air Quality
    Air Quality & Emissions Show (AQE)

    View live vehicle emissions data at AQE 2018

    Visitors to next week's Air Quality & Emissions Show (AQE 2018) in Telford will be able to view live emissions data from vehicles travelling on a road close to the Telford International Centre, where the event will take place (21-22nd Nov.) Ricardo plc, a global strategic engineering and environmental consultancy, will operate the monitoring equipment, providing a live feed into their AQE exhibition stand number No. 74.

  • ABB Laboratory, Monitoring, Process & Analytical
    ABB

    ABB to exhibit latest technologies for water and air monitoring at WWEM & AQE 2018 shows

    ABB's new AquaMaster flowmeter and Dynamic QR code remote assistance tool for air quality systems to feature at WWEM & AQE 2018 shows

  • Jacopa Water
    Jacopa

    Jacopa Strengthens Stormwater Solutions

    Wastewater solutions specialist Jacopa has reached a landmark agreement with German water technology systems expert Steinhardt GmbH as the sole agent for its wide range of flood and process protection products in the UK and Ireland.

  • EMEX 2018 Trade Shows & Conferences
    EMEX 2018

    EMEX, the Energy Management Exhibition, taking place on the 21st and 22nd of November at ExCeL London will have a stellar line-up of speakers and exhibitors.

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Monday, 30 April 2018 09:34

Fuel cells are at point where solar photovoltaics were 15 years ago

A new report predicts that fuel cells are where solar photovoltaics were 15 years ago, and that Solid oxide fuel cells are close to overcoming key challenges, with a boost for renewables by converting excess electricity generated into storage.

Advancements in solid oxide cell technology means that key questions are now being answered around cost, scale and lifetimes, with SOFCs expected to be competitive without subsidies by 2022, according to a new industry snapshot published by fuel cell pioneers Elcogen.

fuell celll futuresFor decades, proponents of a “hydrogen economy” have discussed the potential for fuel cells to revolutionise the world’s power generation, transportation, heating and energy storage. Yet until recently, fuel cells have seen success in niche and often subsidised applications, due to being hamstrung by high costs, short lifetimes and an inability to be mass manufactured.

The report, Solid Oxide Fuel Cells: Opportunities for a clean energy future, outlines new chemical innovations that can take advantage of cheaper raw materials, meaning fuel cells are now capable of lower operating temperatures, which in turn deliver longer system lifetimes.

Fuel cells have already seen success in power generation, heating and transport applications. But perhaps the most exciting prospect is for solid oxide fuel cells to work in electrolyser mode, converting excess electricity into hydrogen for storage, unlocking greater renewable energy adoption through long-term energy storage and grid balancing.

“The fuel cell market remains a tough place. While the technology is proven to work, the biggest hurdle is to reduce production and operating costs to offer competitive pricing of fuel cell technology, and thereby capitalise on their superior energy conversion. Solid Oxide Fuel Cells are the most efficient type of fuel cell, with fuel to electricity conversion efficiencies consistently over 60 per cent,” the report states.

fuel cell futures3 copy“SOFCs can operate in reverse mode, as a Solid Oxide Electrolyser Cell (SOEC), turning energy and water back into hydrogen. By using the energy from renewables when they are not feeding into the grid, fuel cells can run in reverse, producing hydrogen gas through electrolysis. Hydrogen allows a huge amount of energy to be stored for long periods, so the energy from the sun could be used in summer to create hydrogen, which becomes a fuel source in winter. SOECs are the most efficient means of electrolysis, and can electrolyse water to hydrogen at close to 100 per cent efficiency.”

Another major opportunity is for greater adoption of distributed combined heat and power (CHP) systems to slash carbon emissions generated in heating households and residential blocks, particularly in Europe. Given the fact residential heating has long been recognised as a challenging sector to decarbonise, fuel cell-equipped micro-CHP units can drastically reduce associated emissions.

“An in-home micro-CHP system would replace the boiler to become a single power source, removing the need to buy electricity from the grid. Its fuel cell would produce electric power from gas pumped into the home, while using waste heat for heating or cooling. Excess energy can be sold back to the grid. Larger scale systems can also be used at a whole building level, or for industrial applications from powering entire factories to keeping machinery cool.

“With recent advancements in cell electrochemistry, materials science, and ceramic processing, costs can be brought down by lowering materials costs and operating temperatures. With time, scale and growing consumer buy-in, fuel cells will come down in price. A changing energy landscape which sees fossil fuels rise in price will also help.

“SOFCs are where solar PV was 15 years ago. The technology is proven, it is efficient, and existing designs are viable for commercial use with subsidies. New designs which allow lower operating temperatures will improve costs, efficiency and lifetime in the next few years, creating systems which are commercially viable without subsidies – creating SOFC systems which are profitable for manufacturers and deliver a return on investment for consumers and businesses.”

Since 2001, Elcogen has developed the next generation of fuel cell technology. Based in Estonia and Finland, Elcogen supplies more than 60 customers globally.

WWEM 2018

AQE 1018