Tags Posts tagged with "fuel cell"

fuel cell

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Abengoa takes part in the european Grasshopper (GRid ASsiSting modular HydrOgen Pem PowER plant) project, leading the design, construction and testing of a pilot plant, for subsequent scaling to MW. The objective of this new project is the creation of the next generation fuel cell power plants (FCPP) suitable for a flexible operation for grid support. The power plant will use green hydrogen and convert it into electricity and heat without emissions. With the variations in demand and consumption of energy from renewable sources such as sun and wind, a stable energy supply will rely more and more on flexible operation power plants.

The consortium consists, apart from Abengoa, INEA-Informatizacija Energetika Avtomatizacija, Johnson Matthey Fuel Cells Limited (JMFC), Nedstack fuel cell technology B.V., Politecnico di Milano (Polimi) and Zentrum für Brennstoffzellen Technik Gmbh (ZBT).

The development of a fuel cell system, with significant innovations in the membranes and other components, will be done through modelling, experiments and industrial experience by JMFC, ZBT and Nedstack. Polimi will provide support in the decision-making process through modelling activities and optimization. Implementation of the smart grid functionality into the FCPP control and grid integration will be done by INEA.

The demonstration unit will be installed in Delfzijl, where Akzo Nobel and Nedstack have been testing the fuel cell technology for over 10 years now, connecting to the hydrogen by-product stream of the modern chlorine production facility.

The kick-off meeting of the Grasshopper project took place at the beginning of January 2018 at the Akzo Nobel facilities, in Delfzijl, with the participation of the consortium partners, the members of the Advisory Board and the Project and Financial officers from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), unique public private partnership supporting research, technological development and demonstration (RTD) activities in fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies in Europe. The demonstration phase and the end of the project will take place in Akzo Nobel facilities.

The Advisory Board, consisting of members from Akzo Nobel Industrial Chemicals B.V, Tennet TSO B.V, SWW Wunsiedel and members of GOFLEX consortium, will be consulted during the project phase.

Coordinated by INEA, the project Grasshopper will have a duration of 36 months a total budget of 4.4 M €. This project has received funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No779430. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Europe research.

Source: Abengoa

Aggressive innovations by energy solutions providers—in response to pressures such as corporate demand and policy changes including the Paris Climate Accord—has accelerated the development of new clean technologies. Corporate adopters across a wide variety of industries are championing these new energy opportunities, including wind and solar power, distributed generation, energy storage, and other disruptive technologies.

Schneider Electric’s white paper, New Energy Opportunities: Innovations That Shape How Companies Manage Energy, explores several of these cutting-edge technologies, uncover the benefits and challenges of each, and learn by example through case studies on organizations that are already embracing the promising future that these new energy technologies offer.

Renewable energy. Renewable energy is already shaping the way companies buy and sell energy today. C&I buyers are utilizing clean power more than ever before. Often referred to in the past as an alternative, renewable energy is becoming a centerpiece of many corporate energy management programs. More than 100 global companies have signed on to the RE100, committing to source 100% of their electricity from renewable sources.

In the U.S., C&I purchasers were responsible for 52% of the contracted capacity of new wind power in 2015, and, in total, have helped add more than 8,000 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar to the U.S. grid since 2010. Additionally, some of the most notable C&I Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) deals in 2016 occurred outside of North America. Google, Facebook, and Nestle are among the first corporations to venture into international renewable energy markets to provide clean power for facilities abroad. Energy Attribute Certificates (EACs) and Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) are increasingly available to meet the growing demand for green power of compliance and voluntary markets

Microgrids. Today’s market forces are leading to a departure from a highly centralized power system and a return to smaller scale, localized systems that optimize power demand, consumption, and management. Microgrids are emerging as one of these decentralizing technologies that companies are considering because they bring together a combination of clean technologies such as distributed generation, batteries, and renewable resources to help organizations operate autonomously from the traditional electrical grid. C&I energy buyers can realize substantial near-term cost savings by implementing technologies embedded within a microgrid that insulate their facilities from the risk and changing cost components of an ever-evolving energy market.

Energy storage. Batteries and other types of storage play a key role in enabling companies to embrace clean, low-cost, renewable energy at a higher level. By mitigating the intermittency issues that renewable power sources like wind and solar face, storage helps remove a significant barrier that has prevented greater adoption of wind and solar resources.

As the price for batteries and other storage solutions drops, corporate buyers will be well poised to maximize energy investments, while contributing to the clean energy transition. Additionally, with microgrid opportunities on the rise, energy storage in conjunction with other new energy opportunities, very well may become commonplace for companies in the not-so-distant future.

Fuel cells. Fuel cells electrochemically combine a fuel (ranging from pure hydrogen to natural gas or biogas) with oxygen and convert the resulting chemical energy into electricity without any form of combustion. Because they require a constant, steady source of fuel to produce electricity, fuel cells are able to provide a continuous, baseload source of clean electric power.

As a baseload resource, fuel cell technology helps bridge the gap where other renewable energy sources face challenges. The intermittency issues that wind and solar must overcome are not a concern for fuel cells. Partnered with other renewable technologies, fuel cells can balance the difference between demand and generation of intermittent resources. Though fuel cells are not without challenges, such as their high capital cost, embracing a clean energy transition relies on a diverse portfolio of cleantech solutions. As fuel cells overcome these challenges to adoption, in the same way other clean technologies have found success, they should become a vital technology to carefully consider within the active energy management landscape.

Blockchain. Blockchain technology is a distributed, digital ledger used to record and track transactions. It uses sophisticated algorithms to validate, encrypt, and instantaneously record transactions for virtually anything of value in a secure and decentralized manner. Energy is one area of interest for blockchain applications.

Currently, the only means to track renewable energy generation is through EACs, and information sharing among market participants is a manual process. With blockchain, EACs can be created instantaneously as renewable energy is put onto the grid—no matter the size or physical location of the producer. With the increased autonomy that blockchain introduces, corporate energy buyers may find it easier to accomplish these goals—and at a lower cost and time commitment.

Source: Schneider Electric

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The first European fuel cell CHP power plant of megawatt size is now operating in Mannheim. Contrary to conventional power plants, this energy solution delivers heat and electricity virtually absent of pollutants, making it a milestone for the green energy of the future. The innovative plant has been jointly installed by E.ON and FuelCell Energy Solutions at Friatec AG. Over the course of at least ten years, it will provide clean energy for the production processes of materials specialist Friatec.

With a capacity of 1.4 MW, this fuel cell power plant is the only one of its kind in Europe to date. In terms of technology and environmental protection, fuel cells represent a promising alternative to conventional combined heat and power plants. In comparison with other decentralized technologies such as gas turbines, they use fuel sources far more efficiently. In addition, they generate power in a non-combustion process which is virtually absent of pollutants. By using this fuel cell, Friatec will be able to reduce its CO2 emissions by approximately 3,000 t/year.

The fuel cell power plant was installed in only nine months as a joint project by E.ON Connecting Energies, E.ON’s subsidiary for commercial and industrial energy solutions, and FuelCell Energy Solutions, a joint venture by Fraunhofer IKTS and FuelCell Energy Inc. E.ON and FuelCell Energy Solutions have entered into a long-term energy partnership to offer high-performing clean fuel cell technology to customers in energy-intensive sectors.

Source: E.ON

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Variability of electrical output from wind turbines could pose a challenge in supply reliability if wind power is the only source of electricity. Using electricity from wind turbines to produce and store hydrogen can compensate for the intermittency of renewable energy sources (RESs).

Wind farms only generate electricity when the wind is blowing, thereby creating the need for back-up generation. Hydrogen plays a key role in storing the power from excess electricity and can be produced by linking wind turbines to electrolysers that split water into its components. After being stored, hydrogen can be used later to generate electricity from a fuel cell.

The aim of ELYGRID (Improvements to integrate high pressure alkaline electrolysers for electricity/H2 production from renewable energies to balance the grid) was to reduce the cost of hydrogen produced through electrolysis coupled to RESs. The focus was on megawatt-size alkaline electrolysers with capacities upwards of 0.5 MW.

Project partners aimed to increase the efficiency of the electrolysers by 20 % and reduce costs by 25 %. To achieve this, they successfully developed and tested a new cell topology, with efficiency of hydrogen production amounting to 70 %. Producing more hydrogen per unit volume leads to a decrease in production costs.

Just like RESs interconnect with the electrical grid through some type of power electronics interfaces, electrolysers also have similar power electronics to use grid power. Project partners designed new power electronics modules connected in parallel to efficiently convert the alternating current to direct current required by the electrolysis cell stack.

A new balance of plant was designed including all the electrolyser components in the same container, thus creating a more competitive electrolyser unit with decreased costs of commissioning. In addition, ELYGRID partners developed an improved control system coupled to the wind turbine. Depending on the demand, the system can either store energy or feed electricity to the electrical grid.

The large units envisaged by ELYGRID are capable of producing enormous amounts of hydrogen for power-to-gas applications, fuel cell vehicles’ deployment and use in industry. Project outcomes should thus help develop a hydrogen economy in the EU that will reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels for electric power generation.

Nordic leading fuel cell company PowerCell Sweden AB has received a first order for a prototype of a 100 kW PowerCell S3 fuel cell stack from a European company that will use it in an automotive application.

The PowerCell S3 prototype is expected to be delivered during the second quarter of this year. PowerCell S3 fuel cell stack is based on the platform developed by the PowerCell in the Autostack Core project together with its project partners.

The PowerCell S3 fuel cell stack platform will complement the first and second fuel cell stack platforms; the PowerCell S1 (1 5 kW) and PowerCell S2 (6 25 kW) as it covers a larger power range from 20 kW up to 100 kW, except that this platform is designed to only using pure hydrogen as the fuel. The PowerCell S3 fuel cell stack uses proton exchange membrane (PEM) technology and is the choice for automotive applications. PEM is the most common technology used today, owing to its reliable and dynamic characteristics that allows for full power output within seconds.

Fuel cells are a key technology in the pursuit of sustainable mobility. In the future, off-highway applications such as mobile construction equipment, municipal fleet vehicles, and airport ground support vehicles will also be able to benefit from their use. An electric baggage tractor created as a part of the publicly funded Innovative Regenerative Onboard Energy Converter (InnoROBE) project is now the first of its kind in Europe to feature a fuel cell that functions as a range extender. The Fuel Cell Control Unit (FCCU) by Bosch Engineering efficiently manages the interactions of all system components and serves as a key component of the fuel cell system. The project was started in August 2012 by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research in cooperation with project partners Greening GmbH & Co. KG, DLR Institute of Vehicle Concepts, and Fraunhofer NAS, and is slated to be completed by December 31, 2015.

Fuel cell powertrain systems for airport use

The primary mode of conveyance at airports is not the airplane but rather the ground vehicles that transport passengers, luggage, and freight to their respective destinations. Airport operators are increasingly making use of alternative powertrain systems in order to reduce emissions and noise. In the future, fuel cells will be the eco-friendly new technology of choice at airports for mobile machinery as well as ground support and fleet vehicles. The benefits of fuel cell vehicles include their greater range and shorter refueling times of just a few minutes. A baggage tractor with a fuel cell can now last an entire eight-hour shift without recharging the battery.

Widespread adoption of alternative powertrain systems for off-road applications makes even more sense against a backdrop of stricter emissions legislation for internal-combustion engines over 56 kW (EU Stage IV and US Tier 4 Final). Vehicles with fuel cell powertrain systems operate using hydrogen, which reacts with oxygen inside the cell to form pure water. The energy this process releases is transformed into electrical energy inside the fuel cell, which in turn drives the electric motor. “With this zero-emissions powertrain system we can now power off-highway applications such as forklifts or mobile lift platforms not only at airfields, but also inside buildings and warehouses,” Bosch Engineering GmbH director Bernhard Bihrsays. In addition, airport vehicles featuring fuel cell systems run quietly and with little vibration. The first hydrogen refueling stations are already in place at German airports in Stuttgart, Munich, and Hamburg, so these systems have the local infrastructure they need.

From control unit to prototype

The nerve center of the fuel cell system is the FCCU, which combines existing Robert Bosch GmbH hardware for mass-production automotive applications with specifically developed new software. The FCCU controls the entire system with its integrated hydrogen, air, and coolant regulation. “The first application of our production-ready FCCU was within the context of the InnoROBE project,” Bihr says.

bosch_pila_combustible1Bosch Engineering took on other roles in the project as well. For instance, its engineers closely analyzed the fuel cell system in order to determine the required dimensions of its components. In doing so, they looked at vehicle usage conditions, operating durations, refueling specifications, and many other requirements to then determine parameters such as battery size, fuel cell powertrain system power output, and hydrogen tank dimensions. They constructed the overall system and optimized the functional interactions of the components along with control and regulation functions.

For testing, the engineers availed themselves of an in-house fuel cell laboratory as well as a testing rig for a 20 kW fuel cell. They then constructed a prototype baggage tractor to test out the system in real-world operation. This prototype provides the engineers with vital information on how to further enhance the system. Later on, the baggage tractor will be put into real-world operation at Stuttgart Airport. The objective of Bosch Engineering is to put its entire portfolio of services to work in developing fuel cell powertrain systems for additional types of off-highway vehicles.

A worker drives a material handling train powered by hydrogen fuel cells at the BMW plant in Greer, South Carolina. Photo courtesy of BMW Manufacturing.

Supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), the BMW manufacturing plant in Greer, South Carolina demonstrated the use of unique source to power some of its operations: bio-methane gas from garbage at a nearby landfill. This BMW factory is also home to the largest fuel cell powered forklift fleet in the world, with more than 300 units.

In a first-of-its-kind demonstration, EERE, BMW, and project partners Ameresco, Gas Technology Institute, and the South Carolina Research Authority fueled a small sample of these forklifts with hydrogen produced on-site from the bio-methane gas from the nearby landfill. The first challenge to overcome was converting the bio-methane gas into hydrogen. This required the development and testing of multiple tanks with catalysts for removing contaminants. The second challenge was getting the hydrogen clean enough to be used in the fuel cell. To do this, EERE and BMW had to purge the gas stream of all non-hydrogen molecules, including nitrogen.

Forklifts powered by lead-acid batteries can present several challenges, especially for high freight volume throughput with multiple daily shifts, like the BMW facility. Unlike batteries, fuel cells can be rapidly refueled, boosting productivity by eliminating the time and cost associated with battery change-outs and charging.

The plant is home to the world's largest fleet of fuel cell forklifts. Photo courtesy of BMW Manufacturing.
The plant is home to the world’s largest fleet of fuel cell forklifts. Photo courtesy of BMW Manufacturing.

Fuel cell powered lift trucks can reduce the labor cost of refueling/recharging by up to 80% and require 75% less space as compared with battery recharging infrastructure. In addition, fuel cells provide consistent power throughout shifts, unlike conventional forklifts which degrade in performance during a shift.

The Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) conducts comprehensive efforts to overcome the technological, economic, and institutional barriers to the widespread commercialization of hydrogen and fuel cells.