Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


ALKAMMONIA Report Summary

Project ID: 325343
Funded under: FP7-JTI
Country: United Kingdom

Periodic Report Summary 2 - ALKAMMONIA (ALKAMMONIA: Ammonia-fuelled alkaline fuel cells for remote power applications.)

Project Context and Objectives:
In project ALKAMMONIA, the partners will design, manufacture and test a prototype of an integrated small-scale power system designed for remote applications.
TARGET MARKET: Market surveys with mobile telecom companies before the project start had established that there was a market for alternatives to diesel generators to power mobile communications masts in remote locations. A six-month feasibility study confirmed the commercial viability of ammonia-fuelled power solutions to power mobile communication masts in specific markets. The study concluded that if technical challenges could be overcome, there was significant demand in key global areas including Africa and arctic regions. ALKAMMONIA will lay the foundations to provide the necessary evidence to demonstrate the viability of this technology in those markets.
The technologies integrated within the ALKAMMONIA system provide a unique combination of benefits:
1. Ammonia and alkaline fuel cells can operate in a much wider temperature ranges compared to alternative technologies, including other fuel cell types and diesel generators
2. Ammonia is much less attractive to thieves than diesel.
3. Ammonia storage within the system will lengthen service intervals compared to diesel generators.
Two principle components will be integrated in the system:
(i) a fuel delivery system that uses ammonia as fuel, which passes through a cracker to produce hydrogen for the fuel cell.
(ii) an alkaline fuel cell system.
The control system for the fuel cell component will be extended to manage the whole integrated system. Development is underpinned by computational modelling and a programme of project controls.
A substantial resource has been allocated to dissemination and communication activities.
Fuel Cell Development: A pre-prototype fuel cell system has been built. A complete set of single cell fuel cell test data to show effect of ammonia has been generated. A new fuel cell flow-field design to significantly improve fuel utilisation was developed.
Cracker Development: Development and re-design of an effective catalyst for ammonia cracking is underway. An ammonia fuel delivery unit and the cracker/burner integrated reactor is on schedule.
Modelling: Successful and informative computational results, including a completed single cell model have been achieved
System Integration: The high-level integrated system design has been completed
Project Controls etc: Document control system set up and operational; Technical base-lining and health and safety documentation complete
The most important problem encountered by the partners concerned the development of the cracker component of the ALKAMMONIA system. The partner originally responsible for developing the cracker withdrew from the Consortium due to bankruptcy. Subsequently, existing partner ZBT has been able to take over the cracker development. However, since none of the technical work previously developed could be used to achieve a fully functioning cracker, ZBT had to start from scratch. The change in the Consortium required a revision of Annex I which further delayed the project schedule. As a result, an extension of 12 months was subsequently granted by the FCH JU.
Those delays have had minimal effect on the rest of the work plan.
Work in most areas of the project are now on schedule. Those tasks which are reliant on some knowledge of the cracker specifications have been delayed to allow ZBT time to develop their technology. Work packages that are independent of cracker development will continue according to the revised timescales.

Project Results:
- A two-dimensional, non-isothermal and stationary simulation model of a complete alkaline single cell has been developed
- Development of the ionic leakage model is finished
- A model for a single cracker tube (plug flow reactor) has been built
- Stack size has been increased from a traditional 9-cell stack towards a full 101 cell stack
- 11.6kWe has been achieved (original target 10kWe)
- Subcontracted development of final prototype fuel cell system – detailed design in final stages
- The laboratory ammonia cracker system has been designed, manufactured and assembled and is ready for testing
- The laboratory fuel delivery system has been built up and the ammonia gas analysis has been integrated and calibrated
A high-level integrated system design has been completed.
- Further work on costs and on risk factors for input to the MCDA has been performed
- Alternative power supply options for Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) have been evaluated and indicators for the MCDA have been set up
- Document control system operational; complete set of documentation for health and safety
- Structure of CE-conform technical documentation in accordance with the machinery directive has been built up
- Over 10,000 unique visitors on the ALKAMMONIA website during the current RP
- ALKAMMONIA has been presented at six European conferences and events
- Scientific article about environmental and economic assessment in ‘Journal of Power Sources’ published

Potential Impact:
By the end of the project, the partners will have developed a complete fully integrated proof-of-concept prototype system. Tests under during the project will confirm the system’s ability to deliver the power required to operate BSTs. The following objectives are from the revised Description of Work which take account of the extended duration.
1. An ammonia cracker that uses a combustion process to provide the heat for the dissociation process
2. A 10kWe stack, based on an improved design of AFC Energy’s current fuel cell stack
3. A complete balance of plant
4. Seamless integration of the cracker and the alkaline fuel cell technologies into a proof-of-concept system, which complies with all relevant fuel cell regulation and CE marking directives.
5. cost competitiveness of the integrated proof-of-concept system demonstrated against other technologies competing in the same target market(s).
6. Continuous operation of the system using liquid ammonia.
7. A detailed analysis of environmental and socio-economic impacts of the system that addresses supply chains and public perception of ammonia.
The system will be assessed for compliance with all relevant CE regulations and international fuel cell system standards. The project achievements will continue to be presented at various world class fuel cell and energy events to inform key industry and decision makers.

The consortium believes that the wider impact on the fuel cell community will be three-fold:
1. Ammonia as a fuel will be re-evaluated regarding its suitability for different fuel cell applications.
Ammonia has a high energy density which can be converted into a hydrogen-rich gas with relative ease. For many decades, ammonia has been considered a very attractive energy carrier for the growing hydrogen economy. This project will develop and test a highly efficient ammonia cracker that is coupled with an ammonia delivery system. Advances in cracker technology will contribute to a reassessment of ammonia for use in other highly lucrative fuel cell sectors, such as automotive or back-up power systems.
2. The project will increase the profile of alkaline fuel cells. During the past year, the Coordinator has received an increasing number of requests for collaboration with different universities. This project would further accelerate this process and in turn positively impact the European fuel cell research sector by diversifying the research.
3. Positive publicity generated will increase the likelihood that other developing fuel cells worthy of support can obtain the financial and legislative support that they require on the journey to full commercialisation.
Successful development of the ammonia cracker would also impact:
1. Nitriding industry: there are several hundred large nitriding ovens installed in Europe which usually operate continuously. A more efficient cracker would reduce ammonia consumption and improve the RoI.
2. Large stationary power plants where gasification is used to convert coal, biomass or waste into fuel for gas turbines. Operators commonly mix the fuel gas with either natural gas or hydrogen in order to control the heating value. A highly efficient ammonia cracker could make ammonia a viable alternative to this mixing gas.

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United Kingdom
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