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Development of highly efficient and flexible mini CHP fuel cell system based on HTPEMFCs

The overall objective of this topic is to develop, manufacture and validate in a relevant environment mini-CHP energy conversion device using HTPEMFCs technology at 5 kWe. The development activities should build on existing material and stack knowledge and validated designs of HT-PEMFC systems. The improvements targeted on the system design levels should enhance the system’s electrical efficiency, shorten start up time and improve the dynamic response, the volume power density, and simplify the Balance of Plant, as well to increase the durability of a mini-CHP system. Activities on materials and stack design should be limited to adaptation required for proper system integration or improving the thermal management, influencing also on lifetime and efficiency. Reliable data of the operation and stability will be generated in relevant environment. If possible, it is encouraged to reach TRL6 by the end of the project.

The project should aim at both high electrical efficiency and performance as well as high volumetric power density of the mini-CHP system. The topic should therefore aim at the following:

  • Validation of system’s 50-55% (LHV) DC electrical efficiency depending on fuel (NG, LPG or MeOH) and more than 90% overall efficiency and volumetric power density 10-20 W/l. To achieve these the following should at least be considered:
    • Improvements or design innovations of the fuel processor and/or the HTPEM stack so that their effective thermal coupling into the system’s BoP will reach DC electrical efficiencies on system level up to 55% (LHV);
    • Improved BoP design through new concepts for the efficient use of the high temperature heat produced with focus on heating, cooling or additional electricity production;
  • The mini CHP unit should be compact with high volumetric power density, according to the KPIs mentioned below. The robustness of the system should be proven with accelerated stress test, including fast start/stop cycles (15min), endurance in thermal cycling and fast dynamic response (<10 s) upon change of power. The accelerated test will be carried out for a period of 6 months and for at least 2,000 h of operation.

The projects should increase the state of the technology from TRL3 to TRL5.

The consortium should include at least two industrial partners comprising fuel cell system-core component suppliers (MEA, stack or reformer) and a system integrator with clear perspectives and commitment to exploit the results commercially as access to mini-CHP market is a key element.

Activities should build on past experience and achievements, for example, from earlier FCH 2 JU funded projects (e.g. DeMStack, IRMFC, CISTEM, etc.)

Any safety-related event that may occur during execution of the project shall be reported to the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) dedicated mailbox, which manages the European hydrogen safety reference database, HIAD and the Hydrogen Event and Lessons LEarNed database, HELLEN.

Test activities should collaborate and use the protocols developed by the JRC Harmonisation Roadmap (see section 3.2.B ""Collaboration with JRC – Rolling Plan 2019""), in order to benchmark performance of components and allow for comparison across different projects.

The maximum FCH 2 JU contribution that may be requested is EUR 1.5 million. This is an eligibility criterion – proposals requesting FCH 2 JU contributions above this amount will not be evaluated.

A maximum of 1 project may be funded under this topic.

Expected duration: 3 - 4 years.

Mini combined heat and power fuel cell systems (mini-CHP) are energy conversion devices in the range of 5-10 kWe and constitute a promising technology to satisfy local demands for heat and electricity. Their permanent availability can play a key role for the development of smart grid power systems, providing efficient power quickly and efficiently on demand. A significant market lies in intermediate to large scale residential or commercial scale applications, not only for primary power but also for heating. Such system must be able to offer an addition to intermittent RES power production with high electrical efficiency, fast start up and fast dynamic response to provide power even under extreme environmental temperatures. Requirements that other fuel cell technologies, such as SOFCs struggle to meet.

Prior projects on HTPEMFCs focused on the increase of electrical efficiency and performance on the stack level. This topic requests to tackle the performance and efficiency of the CHP system and focuses on both the electrical and thermal efficiency of the system as well as on fast start up and dynamic response. A significant effort must be devoted to integrate thermally the fuel cell with the fuel processor in order to recover the maximum amount of the fuel cell’s wasted heat thus, aiming to system’s level electrical efficiencies up to 55% (LHV). Furthermore, the design and construction of compact systems with high volumetric power density needs to be achieved to fit in residential and commercial environments with space constraints.

The project should:

  • Prove the scalability of the components, systems and processes cost reduction for systems up to 50 kW;
  • Strengthen the EU knowledge on the CHP technology and result in strong synergies or joint ventures including beyond the consortium for the manufacturing of viable and competitive products;
  • Show that can produce cheap and secure electricity with low carbon footprint according to the KPIs mentioned below;
  • Support the RES system with an always available, highly efficient and flexible power source (fast start up in less than 15 min and dynamic adaptation during variable power demand within few seconds).

Additional specific KPIs include the following:

  • CAPEX 10,000 €/kW according to the target set for 2024 in the MAWP;
  • On the fuel cell stack level electrical efficiency 55% (LHV) at performance exceeding 0.2 W/cm2;
  • On the system level Volume Power density 10-20 W/l should be achieved at an electrical efficiency of 50-55% (LHV) depending on the fuel, LPG, natural gas or methanol;
  • Projected degradation of the system < 0.4 % per 1,000h on the electrical efficiency at constant power output;
  • No less than 85 % fuel processor efficiency at the Begin of Life (BoL);
  • Reference test conditions can be realized with reformate gas originating from methanol, bio-gas, LPG/NG or NG blended with H2 admixtures with composition H2 (55-70 %), H2O (7-20 %) CO2 (20-30 %), CO (1-3 %) with fuel utilization exceeding 95 % or λ<1.05. Other renewable fuels can also be used.

Type of action: Research and Innovation Action

The conditions related to this topic are provided in the chapter 3.3 and in the General Annexes to the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018– 2020 which apply mutatis mutandis.