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Solid Oxide Fuel Cell micro-CHP Field Trials

Final Report Summary - SOFT-PACT (Solid Oxide Fuel Cell micro-CHP Field Trials)

SOFT-PACT has been established to undertake large scale field demonstration of SOFC generators that can be utilised in residential applications.

The project goals and objectives are as follows:

- European demonstration of fuel cell microCHP systems
- Trialling of modular and integrated Fuel Cell microCHP systems
- Utilisation of Gennex: world’s most electrically efficient fuel cell module (60%)
- Determine EU Market Opportunity for domestic Fuel Cells
- Deployment of up to 100 Fuel Cell microCHP systems – 3 System Configurations
- Analysis of real world data from field units
- Commercial configuration and component optimisation

In order to achieve these objectives the project has been split into two distinct phases:

a) Phase 1: Deployment of forty BlueGen™ 2kW SOFC generators with domestic hot water thermal stores (Pathfinder systems).
b) Phase 2: To design, build and deploy up to sixty 1-2 kWe SOFC micro-CHP units based on current prototype test systems (integrated systems with condensing boilers).

Pathfinder System units will act as long-term (40 month), baseline test systems to learn and understand the issues and problems that the fuel cell units will face in the field. All data to date has been obtained in the laboratory or simulated residential conditions. A key issue will be in establishing installation procedures for the systems and associated monitoring and control equipment. BlueGen™ has been released to the market in small numbers and has the following specifications:

Dimensions: (H x L x W) (970 x 660 x 600mm)
Weight: ~200 kg
Fuel: Mains natural gas (0.9 to 5 kPa)
Power Output: 0 – 2000 W (230V @ 50Hz)
Start-up time: ~20 hours
Efficiency: 60% net electrical at 1500W output (LHV)
Operating conditions: +1 to +45 C (ambient temperatures)
Inlet air temperature: -20 to +45 C
Maintenance intervals: 3 months (minor), 12 months (major)
Approvals: CE, PAS 67
Emissions: 340g/kWh (negligible NOx or SOx)
Communications: Standard Ethernet port

Tests carried out to date show a stack degradation rate <2% per 1000 hours.

Deployment of units will be in occupied residential locations with a small number also being installed in test homes to provide reference data with the existing tests of prototype units and as a baseline for the field trial systems. Products will be deployed in multiregional areas and in a range of homes with varying annual energy consumption (i.e. low heat-high electrical, med heat-medium electrical, high heat-high electrical demands etc.). The project consists of twelve work packages, led by various members of the consortium which consists of E.ON Technologies, Ideal Heating, Ceramic Fuel Cells and HOMA Software. In the sections that follow each work package is described together with its high level findings.