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The HELTSTACK consortium (“HIGH EFFICIENCY LOW TEMPERATURE SOFC STACK”, was a partnership between four (4) European industry and academia institutions collaborating in research and technology development in solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology and SOFC systems. The HELTSTACK consortium was funded by the EU under the Industry-Academia Partnerships and Pathways (IAPP) Marie Curie Programme (Grant no. 612431).

The HELTSTACK project was based on the products of industrial partners Elcogen AS (Estonia; cells) and Elcogen OY (Finland; stacks), and motivated by their interest to further develop and commercialise their products. Other project partners included 2 research institutes: National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics (NICPB, Estonia) supporting cell development and coordinating their use in stacks; and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd (VTT Oy, Finland) providing stack design and evaluation. The transfer of knowledge in HELTSTACK promoted harmonised development of cell, stack and their characterisation methods. Taken the aforementioned, the members of the consortium joined excellent and unique expertise in diverse fields, and formed a strong, stimulating and coherent research environment ensuring the pooling of complementary scientific skills in the domain of SOFC technology & systems.

Taken that the main development challenges in the field relate to the commercialisation of SOFC technology and SOFC systems, those were raised to the focus of the HELTSTACK project, by aiming to reduce their cost, increase lifetime and efficiency. SOFC stacks are the key components of SOFC systems, form approximately one third of the total system cost. Stacks with high performance and efficiency are required for high system efficiency.

Similarly, in HELTSTACK, NICPB provided Elcogen OY knowledge about achieving optimal cell properties and their adjustment for stack production, also about cell design for optimal electrochemical performance. Elcogen AS provided VTT knowledge about cell mechanical properties important for stack production. VTT provided Elcogen AS knowledge about long term cell testing. Elcogen AS provided NICPB knowledge about ceramic production challenges, to improve cell production efficiency. All manufacturing methods, designs and materials were chosen to be suitable for mass production and lead to decreased costs compared to current state-of-the-art.

Altogether the HELTSTACK partners combined the top European know-how in single cells, coatings, gaskets, and stack designs to produce: 1) a novel 1 kW SOFC stack, 2) together with a proof of concept of a novel, low temperature SOFC stack for 10 kW power range using realistic fuel for stationary power generation applications, i.e. verifying the latter’s design and conducting all necessary testing, thus enabling to serve better large system manufacturers’ expectations. Concurrently, multiple improvements over the state-of-the-art in cost, performance, efficiency, and reliability were stated. These HELTSTACK outcomes form the basis for both Elcogen companies’ commercial SOFC cell and stack technology subject to immediate commercialisation.

More to the point, the HELTSTACK results will be directly usable in offering new solutions for personalised/customised HotBox development and integration, followed by sales and marketing thereof by Elcogen OY. The HELTSTACK innovation offers both technological and cost-efficiency benefits – the HELTSTACK SOFC stack is working at a lower temperature, which allows lower cost and longer working time. In other words, the HELTSTACK solution will be much more cost-efficient for SOFC system developers – this is one of the driving forces of the market.

Furthermore, novel application fields based on the innovative HELTSTACK SOFC stack include high-temperature electrolysis: usage of technologies developed in HELTSTACK to provide alternative sources for storage of electricity from non-fossil fuel sources (such as solar, wind as well as ocean, nuclear), which is a new and very promising domain in global energetics, lessening the “ecological footprint” (sales and marketing related to the electrolysis by Elcogen OY).