The market for fuel cells in small-power applications (between 0.3 and 5 kWe), is progressively taking shape worldwide. The most promising application, in terms of societal and environmental impact, is the residential micro Combined Heat and Power (µCHP), as suggested by the study Advancing Energy Systems (reference 1) published by FCH-JU in 2015. Other small-scale applications (telecom towers, data centers, HVAC, remote power, small commercial etc.) use the same technical platform and may provide a quicker market uptake. The Japanese industry, thanks to its ambitious ENE-FARM program, has taken the lead in technology development in this field, and is enjoying economies of scale. In Europe, a much smaller-scale effort is underway, in a more fragmented market.
Until now, PEMFC (Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell) technology dominates the market with Intellectual Property largely in the hands of Japanese groups. However, ceramic-based technologies, in particular SOFC (Solid Oxide Fuel Cells), still pose as a promising alternative for future systems.
Despite its recognized potential, the SOFC technology still needs to mature on specific dimensions at cell, stack and hotbox levels (such as material sets, manufacturability and components design), in order to fulfill the cost and performance demands of the small-power customer– typically a long lifetime (10 years), high electrical efficiency (55% to 60% or more) and acceptable cost (less than 15 000 €/kW for a system). Moreover, working on next-generation, disruptive technology will allow European industries and consumers to avoid depending on Asian-imported technology.
The main challenge that this project intends to address is to develop a next generation Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC) stack/hotbox technical platform for small stationary applications, which is fully competitive with today’s integrated Japanese SOFC power modules, and which satisfies fully the European customers’ needs while leveraging the European supply chain.
The goal of the topic is to foster the development of next-generation SOFC stack and/or hotbox/ integrated stack module technology, of European ownership, as a technical platform serving small-power (<5 kWe) stationary applications, including but not limited to Residential µCHP, by improving:
In order to solve the challenge the project is expected to include some of the following tasks:
Within the project, the following will be performed:
A collaboration mechanism needs to be developed with the JRC, in relation to the ongoing EU protocol harmonisation and validation activities performed in support of the FCH2-JU programme.
To be eligible for participation a consortium must contain at least one constituent entity from the Industry and from the Research Grouping.
TRL 3 at start to TRL 5 at the end.
Any safety-related event that may occur during execution of the project shall be reported to the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), which manages the European hydrogen safety reference database, HIAD (dedicated mailbox JRC-PTT-H2SAFETY@ec.europa.eu).
The FCH 2 JU considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 3 million would allow the specific challenges to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Expected duration: 3 years
The projects are expected to contribute to validate the targets contained in the MAWP 2014–2020, or even go beyond, in particular the specific KPIs related to small-power (<5 kWe) stationary applications, including but not limited to Residential µCHP, using SOFC / ceramic-based technologies. It is believed that if the following criteria are met, the SOFC system’s performance and economics will be suitable for a market take-off.