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European methanol powered fuel cell CHP

Project description

Soaring efficiency for simultaneous heat and power generation

Meeting the world's growing energy demands in a sustainable way is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. Micro combined-heat-and-power (micro-CHP) generation is a low-carbon technology for individual homes and buildings that generates heat and electricity simultaneously. Systems based on high-temperature polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (HTPEMFCs) are among the most promising for very high efficiency and low emissions. The EU-funded EMPOWER project is developing significant enhancements to this valuable technology, to deliver an HTPEMFC-based micro-CHP system fuelled by methanol that is suitable for the CHP and maritime sectors, too. EU funding is supporting the optimisation and technical validation of the technology as well as the business analysis required to prepare for commercialisation.


In the EMPOWER project a methanol fuelled 5 kWe mini-CHP system based on HTPEMFC technology is developed, manufactured and validated in a relevant environment. The system efficiency over 50% (DC, LHV) is achieved with novel ideas of thermal integration with a two-stage reformer setup and by using thermoelectric generators (TEG), utilising the high temperature heat of HTPEMFC stack.

An aqueous phase reformer (APR) for methanol pre-reforming is applied for the first time in a commercial scale HTPEMFC system. The use of APR and its thermal integration in the FC system enables efficient utilisation of the stack waste heat and enables reformer efficiency approaching 95%. The best available catalysts will be screened and adapted for the reformer, both for the APR and for the 2nd stage reformer, which employs commercialised reformer technology from project partner Catator and recently developed methanol-reforming catalyst from partner University of Porto.

The system efficiency is further improved by increasing the fuel utilization to above 95% in the HTPEMFC stack. This is enabled by improving anode gas flow distribution in the cells as well as improving the stack end plates. The new end plate design will also enable stack pressurising and improving stack efficiency over 55 %.

The improvements in the HTPEM system design for mini-CHP use are validated in relevant environment, coupled to the heating and power system of a detached house, so that reliable data of the operation and stability can be generated.

The accelerated test will be carried out for a period of 6 months and for at least 2,000 h of operation. Lastly, the project includes planning for scaling both the reformer solution and CHP system to 50-100 kWe size, including the addition of expanders.

The technical work is complemented with a business analysis, including all the relevant elements of the methanol FC value chain, for the use of the developed technology in micro-CHP, CHP and maritime sectors.


Net EU contribution
€ 449 995,00
Tekniikantie 21
02150 Espoo

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Manner-Suomi Helsinki-Uusimaa Helsinki-Uusimaa
Activity type
Research Organisations
Other funding
€ 0,00

Participants (4)