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SAFARI Report Summary

Project ID: 325323
Funded under: FP7-JTI
Country: United Kingdom

Final Report Summary - SAFARI (Sofc Apu For Auxiliary Road-truck Installations)

Executive Summary:
SAFARI aimed to design, optimise and build 5 100We SOFC stacks, and to integrate them into 2 truck (Fig 1) cab power systems comprising both rapid heating planar SOFC from ALM and microtubular SOFC from ADE, together with a battery and appliances found in a modern truck. Additional components of the system were a gas processor to clean up the molecules from LNG plus other equipment for Balance of Plant (BoP) and heater/chiller. All these components were constituents of a fuel cell unit which was to be first tested in the lab and then in a truck platform. SAFARI was primarily focussed on trucks at HARDSTAFF who ran a fleet of LNG trucks. HAR became insolvent and was replaced by VAYON (Vayon Group). The project also considered other options including buses and delivery vehicles using LNG. Trials were to be undertaken in the UK, especially to comply with approvals for codes and standards, as well as assessing the economic fleet potential. Unfortunately, FCH-JU cancelled the 3year project after only 2 years of work.

Figure 1 Volvo LNG truck for installation of SOFC APU
The problem was that the truck company partner HARDSTAFF went bankrupt in February 2015, just over 13 months into the 3 year project. This eventually led to the shutdown of the project by FCH-JU, despite the fact that the remaining partners wished to continue. Normally a bankruptcy does not cause a project to be closed, so there was disappointment in the SAFARI collaborative partnership. In particular, several partners including UOB, VAY and ADE had put much of their own funds into finding more partners to keep the project going, but with overriding resistance from FCH-JU This final report attempts to summarise the plan, the work, the results and the dissemination obtained by the Consortium from January 2014 to May 2016 when the project was terminated.

SAFARI was organised around a supply chain consortium model. The product champion in the market was HARDSTAFF (HAR), an LNG Truck adaptor and user, providing about 50 LNG trucks each year mainly for supermarkets, with a defined need for practical and economic SOFC auxiliary power systems to augment the battery and to use any boil-off natural gas from the cryotank. The fuel cell system supplier was Adelan (ADE), a spin-out company from University of Birmingham (UOB) with long experience of microtubular SOFCs. ALMUS (ALM) was a second SME fuel cell supplier using planar stacks to compare with the tubular system from Adelan. Academic institutions IREC (IRE) in Barcelona and University of Birmingham in UK studied the scientific aspects of the materials and the catalysts, while ZUT in Poland devised computational models to fit the experimental results.

The project comprised six partners collaborating on seven technical work packages (WPs), starting at WP2 with definition of the market requirements, continuing with research on cells and stacks in WP3, going on to developing BOP in WP4 and modelling in WP5, following with fuel and packaging issues in WPs 6 and 7. WP8 was the field testing package. The other two WPs were WP1 on Management and WP9 on dissemination. Management of the project was mainly by Adelan in WP1 which was pursued all through the project. A major change in the project arose in April 2015 when the Project Monitoring Officer stopped the project after the bankruptcy of the truck company HARDSTAFF. He used the reason ‘poor performance’ but the partners are still not clear how ‘bankruptcy’ can be confused with ‘poor performance’ The project was then restructured by ADELAN at great cost to bring in a new partner VAYON to restart on 1st November 2015. Unfortunately, the Project Monitoring Officer stopped the project again in May 2016 and it has not been possible to restart it because of the negative messages from Brussels.
The conclusions drawn from the project are:
• The microtubular SOFC power supply for the LNG truck has been successfully investigated and looks feasible
• The planar rapid-start SOFC also looks feasible but was not fully tested before termination
• A suitable innovative design for the truck fuel cell product has been attained and partially proved
• One patent has been filed while numerous exhibition, conference and journal disseminations have been achieved

Project Context and Objectives:
“SAFARI” was a novel proposal with a new consortium assembled to apply Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs both tubular and planar) in trucks using Liquid Natural Gas (LNG), the fuel most widely expected to replace diesel in the next 50 years. It is a significant step forward technically because no-one has yet been able to apply SOFC successfully in this early truck market. Technical improvements like low emissions, low noise, long life, rapid warm-up and good heat usage were proposed and have been partially proved in the project results.

The project assembled perfect partners for addressing the SOFC materials, the stack and system development, the fuel issues, the modelling, independent testing, and the early market development. Dissemination was excellent because the industry partners and RTD institutions organized conferences and numerous other events to publicise the results and create impact through journal publications.

In order to achieve these objectives, the consortium was organised on a supply chain model, with the truck manufacturer defining the end product spec and the two SOFC manufacturers feeding their technology in, while RDT institutions provided testing and computer modelling at the consumer end. Adelan coordinated the project, managing the activities over 2 years before cancellation by FCH-JU, then writing the periodic reports.

Project Results:
The societal implications of portable fuel cell use, particularly in commercial vehicles like trucks are very significant in the view of this consortium. At present, most trucks in the EU are powered by diesel and cause severe pollution, especially when idling and when the driver is resting or asleep. At these times, the driver and nearby public wish to be free of air pollution and engine noise. This can be achieved by moving to clean power sources such as LNG SOFCs without noise and toxic engine emissions. This gives several societal strands as follows.
The first strand impacting this project is commercialisation in the LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) truck market which is increasing and is a coherent high value niche. LNG is a much cleaner fuel than diesel, is more available long-term, and may eventually be sourced from biomass to become fully renewable. Recent market reports show that global LNG in trucks will be about 45Mte in 2025 and 96Mte in 2035, starting from zero in 2010. China is leading, with almost half the total of LNG trucks, about 100,000 LNG trucks in 2013, fed by 1100 LNG fuelling stations. The demand in the EU depends on the high relative cost of diesel compared to natural gas, and this has fallen off in recent years. But predictions are that the overall use of LNG will increase by a factor 9 by 2025, not only in trucks but also in locomotives and ships.
Compared to CNG, which is commonly moved through pipeline networks and requires additives for transport safety, LNG is much purer and this pays off in SOFC use, where the sulfur trap is smaller and lasts longer. The proving ground for LNG trucks is China, where LNG trucks have increased to more than 330,000 medium- and heavy-duty trucks on the road. That number is expected to triple in the next five years. That compares to about 23,000 in the U.S. and only 2,000 in Europe. So a key societal influence depends on EU learning how China has succeeded in this cleaner technology.

See Final Report

Potential Impact:
Dissemination impact is the second strand. Vayon had access to hundreds of customer industries such as supermarket delivery companies. When they resigned because of the negative FCH-JU report, we lost the link to the consumer. Their view was that a fuel cell at the right price and performance will be a successful commercial product in the current market. Their task was to start the market stimulation in the UK by carrying out specific trials and relaying the positive message to their industry customers. members. This has now stopped.
In the third strand, environmental impact will certainly occur as these generators take hold, especially as the niche truck market can be widened to locomotives and ships. Typical savings of emissions include COx, NOx, SOx, VOCs and particulates, more than 1te/a in total per portable fuel cell unit. Reducing noise is the second major benefit. Such savings apply further to locomotives, the second priority of SAFARI after trucks. The first need is to identify and satisfy the needs of specialist vehicles. The underlying fuel cell product technology is expected to be virtually identical. This very large market cannot now be addressed.

See Final Report

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