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Competitive Auxiliary Power Units for vehicles based on metal supported stack technology

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - COMPASS (Competitive Auxiliary Power Units for vehicles based on metal supported stack technology)

Reporting period: 2018-04-01 to 2019-09-30

This project is worldwide the first (publically known) approach to integrate SOFC based APUs (Auxiliary Power Units) into electrical powertrains. With this innovative approach, the attractiveness of Battery electric vehicles can be increased, due to significant improvements in vehicle range and recharging times. Within the COMPASS project an advanced APU system will be developed, to convert chemical energy stored in a high energy density fuel tank (hydrocarbon, e.g. ethanol) into electricity, to recharge the vehicle HV battery for electrical driving. With the help of this approach, the total range of the vehicle can be significantly increased, without adding more battery capacity.

The developments from this project will enable a new and innovative powertrain concept for OEMs avoiding major industrialization hurdles of BEVs and FCEVs. The approach enables high efficiency, fast recharge/refill and zero emission. Therefore, it contributes to the global environment/energy policies towards CO2 fleet average emissions.
As Background information, it is important to realize that COMPASS intended to build upon the FFG (Austria) MeStREx project. The platform MeStREx stack was to be developed and then carried over into the COMPASS project. Details of the relationship are seen in Figure 2. Furthermore, the important lessons regarding an APU system, operating on a 45% / 55% ethanol water mixture, were to be gained from MeStREx. Unfortunately, in MeStREx the MSC stacks were not delivered and this has delayed the delivery of the IT1 COMPASS APU system. In M18 of the COMPASS project, Plansee and Nissan exited the consortium.

Nevertheless, the COMPASS consortium achieved the following. In Work package 2 (Specification Development), a significant achievement was completion of the vehicle integration verification stage. All vehicle systems and layout are considered to accept the SOFC-APU. The consortium is very confident that, the process was considered adequately and this allows a degree of flexibility in the APU architecture and performance. This is clearly seen in the range and depth of content included in the deliverables submitted. In Work package 3 (APU system optimization) progress was made in designing and testing a state of the art integrated fuel vaporization and reforming component. Achieved also was a novel simulation tool for evaluating the temperature gradients and energy requirement for stack rapid heating. The effect of sending combusted fuel directly over the SOFC cathode for a rapid start was investigated and reported to the field. Identified also were solutions that will support the weight, volume and noise target requirements in the project. Even though the IT 1 System was not achieved, these achievements indicate that with new partners the realization of the IT 1 system can be achieved rapidly and to a degree equal to the originally planned system. In WP4 (Vehicle Integration) the important achievements were defining the APU to vehicle interfaces, the vehicle systems simulations and expert review, development of the LV and HV electronic systems, the packaging of all systems into the vehicle and the execution of vehicle operating strategy simulations.
In WP5 (Durability development & validation) a Design Verification and Validation Plan was generated using tools from AVL & input from the project partners. While the robustness of the Plansee stacks could not be verified, due to the delayed stack delivery, the basic performance of stacked cells in another stack design was investigated. Areas for optimisation were identified. In general, even though there have been significant delays, due to the lack of information regarding the eventual stack performance and operating tolerances, significant progress has been achieved that will provide a solid basis for future activity in the project.
Since end of Month 18 and the news that both Plansee and Nissan will leave the consortium, AVL has been unsucsessfully searching for an alternative MSC stack supplier to either join the consortium, or agree to sell hardware for use in the COMPASS project. The project was terminated in 2019.