Honda’s Home Energy Station supplies electricity and heat for buildings in addition to hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles. The Company is preparing for large scale manufacture of fuel cell powered vehicles as the Japanese Government plans for 2 Gigawatts of stationary fuel cells and 50,000 fuel cell powered vehicles by 2010.
NINTH GROVE SYMPOSIUM
PART II of this report focuses on the fuel cell technologies which are already in operation and the markets which will open up during the next few years. PART I, in Fuel Cell Power Autumn 2005, examined how fuel cells could contribute to energy security and emissions reductions. Small portable fuel cells are likely to be the first to be mass manufactured, alongside large units producing electricity and heat from gas and biofuels. The next markets are for powering bikes, for electricity back up and combined heat and power applications. At the start of the Symposium a variety of fuel cell applications were on display to the general public in Trafalgar Square.
First markets for fuel cells
Dr Werner Tilmetz of ZSW, Germany said that about a hundred fuel cell combined heat and power (CHP) units are already in operation in European homes. They range from 1 to 5 kilowatts and are highly efficient (over 80%) for electricity and heat production. Small portable fuel cells powered by hydrogen or methanol are used for battery charging, military and leisure applications. There are also large units, over 200 kW, powered by molten carbonate fuel cells (MCFC) which have 50% electrical efficiency and 90% overall efficiency, including the production of heat.
Fuel cell powered urban delivery vehicles will play an important role in combating particulate emissions in our cities. The design of future cars powered by fuel cells will change dramatically, just as our present vehicles have been modified since the first ‘horseless carriages’ were introduced. As there is no bulky engine, General Motors has been able to fit all the components for its fuel cell car into the chassis. The customer will be able to select from a variety of different types of bodywork for cars or vans to fit onto their chassis.
Large and small electricity generators
Dr Michael Fubi of RWE, Germany, said that there will be an annual European market for several thousand higher temperature fuel cells ranging from 100kW up to 300kW if the cost can be brought down to €1,500/ kilowatt. These fuel cells are highly efficient and have a long life time, with the Phosphoric Acid (PAFC) exceeding 40,000 hours, the Molten Carbonate (MCFC) 26,000 hours and the Solid Oxide (SOFC) achieving 20,000 hours so far.
J Leitman reviewed the progress made by FuelCell Energy which has invested $450m in the Direct Fuel Cell. This is based on carbonate fuel cell technology and converts gases directly to electricity and heat, without the need for a fuel processor. The units start at 250 kW, then 1 megawatt (MW) and up to 2MW. Electrical efficiency is 50% and this compares with 33% for US fossil fuel plant and gas turbines at 30 – 40%. If a turbine is added to utilise the waste heat, the electrical efficiency of the Direct Fuel Cell system increases to 70%. FuelCell Energy is reducing costs by around 20% per annum and once larger volume production in the region of 50 MW per annum is reached, there will be further substantial reductions.
The Direct Fuel Cell is particularly suitable for waste water treatment centres, manufacturing, grid support, hospitals and schools. Many US States are stipulating set proportions of renewable energy and fuel cells for electricity generation.
J Stannard of Fuel Cell Technologies Ltd, Ontario said that there are over 200 million suitable houses in Europe and Japan for their small 5 kW methanol powered fuel cell which provides both electricity and hot water. They have developed their own proprietary software and have an agreement with Westinghouse to incorporate their tubular solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC). They also have an arrangement with Toto in Japan which has been developing SOFC since 1990. First they are demonstrating reliability in specialist applications, where customers will pay the initial high premium price, such as Ford’s “fumes to fuel” scheme in paint plants. Their aim is to reduce costs to $2,500/kW which would enable payback in 2.5 years in larger houses.
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