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The FCH JU supported project POWER-UP puts Europe at the forefront of Alkaline Fuel Cell Technology
Hydrogen is used extensively in the chemical industry for processing and synthesising new products. However, following this processes, significant hydrogen quantities remain unexploited. The FCH JU supported project POWER-UP, led by the UK-based company AFC Energy, innovates by manufacturing, installing and operating a first-of-its-kind 240 kWe industrial-scale alkaline fuel cell (AFC) power plant, installed at Stade, Lower Saxony, Germany. The fuel cell system utilises the remaining /surplus hydrogen and produces electricity, which is then exported to the local power grid.
This is the first time an alkaline fuel cell system has been demonstrated on a large industrial scale, anywhere in the world. Operating data from the demonstration plant has shown a conversion efficiency of hydrogen to electricity of above 56%. The successful experience of the project has raised interests for similar plants to be installed worldwide.
The project has also helped to set-up a process thanks to which all catalyst materials (manufacturing waste and post-consumer waste) are recycled, while demonstrating a promising life cycle analysis.
Building on the project’s success, the future generation of stacks have already adopted new design methodologies that will significantly reduce the consumption of raw materials such as nickel.
POWER-UP has also developed a robotic work cell to assemble the alkaline fuel cell stacks from the various fuel cell components. This has proven to increase significantly the production rate of cells and has reduced the failure rate in the manufacturing process.
Funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking has brought the Alkaline Fuel Cell Technology’s progression forward by at least three years, offering significant opportunities in today’s energy markets that have an increased demand for technologies capable of increasing regions’ security of energy supply.
If built in larger volumes, the next generation of the technology - already under development- has the potential to become a competitive alternative in the power generation market. Particularly, if the alkaline technology utilises hydrogen produced from renewable energy sources, it will offer a 100% zero emission power and heat solution for greening the industry.