April 13, 2016
Low-cost and highly efficient heating and lighting for buildings could emerge from trials of a prototype fuel cell in South Korea.
The electrochemical fuel cell system will produce both heat and power from hydrogen for housing.
Volvo spinout and fuel cell developer PowerCell Sweden says it has received an order from an “important global customer” for a prototype of its PowerCell S2 fuel cell stack, initially to supply a micro-Combined Heat and Power (CHP) set up for the South Korean housing sector.
Micro-CHP systems generate heat and electricity simultaneously for individual homes or buildings.
PowerCell S2′s power range, 5-25 kW, is designed for stationary and mobile power supply applications and also as a range extender for electric and hybrid vehicles. It is based on a low temperature proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell technology, which typically uses a water-based polymer membrane as its electrolyte, with platinum-based electrodes.
PowerCell says its platform is robust and compact, is designed for high volume production and can be used both with pure hydrogen and other fuels, which it claims makes it cost-effective and flexible.
Editor’s comment: Fuel cells powered by hydrogen produce only electricity, heat and water in operation and are also robust, quiet and highly efficient. As hydrogen can be produced from excess renewable energy capacity, the commercial rollout of such systems represents a host of energy system benefits, but energy players are typically conservative and risk averse. Pre-commercial trials of such prototype systems to demonstrate reliability are a key stepping-stone.