Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


HEATSTACK Report Summary

Project ID: 700564
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - HEATSTACK (Production Ready Heat Exchangers and Fuel Cell Stacks for Fuel Cell mCHP)

Reporting period: 2016-04-01 to 2017-11-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Micro-Combined heat and power (mCHP) generation holds great potential for lowering energy cost and CO2 emissions in the residential housing sector. Of the various mCHP technologies, fuel cells, show great promise due to their high electrical efciency potential (electrical efficiency of up to 60% and a combined efficiency in cogeneration of more than 90%). Fuel cell technologies are still under development and the capital cost of units available today remains high, preventing mass-market exploitation. To become economically competitive, fuel cell mCHP system CAPEX costs must be reduced substantially. This can only be achieved with technological advancement and increased production volumes through the industrialisation of key component manufacturing.

Major components of the fuel cell systems include the fuel cell stack and heat exchangers. European FC mCHP technology pioneers, Vaillant Group, have developed a state-of-the-art mCHP system using a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) stack developed by Sunfire. To date, this system has undergone extensive field trials as part of European-wide residential fuel cell mCHP deployment initiatives and is one of the most promising SOFC mCHP technologies nearing commercial deployment. This system also utilises an innovative Cathode Air Preheater (CAPH) that is based on a novel gas to gas heat exchanger (recuperator) design developed by Senior Flexonics, responsible for recovering heat energy from the exhaust gas to heat air before it enters into the fuel cell. Together, the SOFC stack and CAPH represent the two most expensive components within the whole system for which the cost and supply will be key to future economic competitiveness and commercial uptake of SOFC mCHP appliances. Vaillant have withdrawn from FC mCHP development and Sunfire will now lead the development of the fuel cell module building on Vaillaat's original work.

The HEATSTACK project focuses on the industrialisation of these two components with the aim of achieving significant overall system cost reductions through volume production, ensuring that better total annual energy cost balance for the customer is provided:
1) Cathode Air Preheaters: The HEATSTACK project aims to develop a production ready CAPH for the residential (micro-) CHP market and associated manufacturing capacity for volume production
2) SOFC Stack: HEATSTACK will optimise the production process, and develop higher volume manufacturing capability, impacting the overall cost of fuel cell stack production.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The CAPH manufacturing process has been industrialised using robotics and improved processes, as planned within the grant application
The design of the CAPH has been modified to ensure that there is no distortion resulting from cycling that would impair performance of the unit
The selection of Aluchrom for the manufacture of the CAPH units has been validated through experimentation by University of Birmingham, accompanied by data that can be used for marketing purposes.
Sunfire have made great progress In the optimisation of the sealing glass mix for their SOC stacks, and have defined manufacturing processes and tooling to maximise production speed whilst reducing manual input and wastage
ICI have validated that the SFC CAPH should work in modules for their larger generation capacity CHP systems

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

At this stage of the project the manufacturing performance improvements that have been achieved are confidential.
However Senior Flexonics have made considerable investment in equipment and tooling to greatly improve the manufacturing speed and quality of the CAPHs
Sunfire are making good progress in improving the SOC stack manufacturing process, to enable a less labour intensive process, this reducing unit cost and production speed.
University of Birmingham now have over 2000 hours of performance data for AluChrom versus inconel and other metals demonstrating the viability of this material for use in the high temperature and gas environment of a working CAPH for SOC stacks.
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