Demonstration of 1st European SOFC Truck APU

Framework Programme: 
Call for proposals: 
Application area: 
Transport and refuelling infrastructure

Key Objectives of the project

The main objective of DESTA is the demonstration of the first European Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) for trucks. The SOFC technology offers significant advantages compared to other fuel cell technologies because of its compatibility with conventional road fuels. The project starts with defining the APU requirements for the application of a SOFC APU in a Volvo heavy-duty truck for the US market. Based on test results including e.g. production costs, controllability and manufacturability of two existing systems from AVL and JE, a benchmark will be performed by the independent research institute FZJ, leading to an optimized DESTA SOFC APU. This final unit will combine the superior features of the individual systems. In parallel, TOFC will work on the SOFC stack optimization. The consortium is confident that the chosen technology is sufficiently mature to perform well in a truck demonstration in 2014.


Challenges/issues addressed

Currently, significant development efforts are undertaken by the DESTA partners Eberspächer and AVL for bringing the SOFC APU technology to a prototype level. Eberspächer develops a SOFC APU system within the ENSAII project funded in Germany and AVL in the ASysI project in Austria. In both projects, significant improvements in APU system design, operation and on BoP (Balance of Plant) component level have been achieved. For example, hot-gas anode recirculation technology is now available. For a market entry of the SOFC APU technology, the final breakthrough milestone is the demonstration of its functionality on a truck. This challenge is set forth as the goal of the DESTA project.


Technical approach/objectives

The technical objectives demonstrated with the DESTA SOFC APU system are:

  • Maximum electrical power ≥3kW
  • Operation on conventional road diesel fuel
  • Expected lifetime verified in long-term tests with statistical methods to reach >20.000h
  • System electrical net efficiency around 35%
  • System volume and weight below 150L and 120kg
  • CO2 reduction of 75% compared to engine idling of a heavy-duty truck
  • Start-up time of ~30min
  • Noise level ~65dB(A)

Figure 1

Expected socio and economic impact

Significant impact on the society is expected through fast market introduction of SOFC APU products (estimated for 2015) with all the positive effects like reduced emissions, noise and costs. With stack manufacturing (TOFC, Denmark), system manufacturing (Eberspächer, Germany) and vehicle manufacturing (Volvo, Sweden) the product value chain is completely within the EU. The end product will enjoy excellent export opportunities to the US and other countries, due to local anti-idling legislations and its great cost saving potential for truck operators. The robust and reliable SOFC APU products developed by these European players will create new high-tech & clean-tech job opportunities in Europe, with sales prospects on the entire global market.

Project reference: 
Topic SP1-JTI-FCH.2010.1.5: Auxiliary Power Units for Transportation Applications
Project type: 
Contract type: 
Collaborative Project
Start date: 
Sunday, January 1, 2012
End date: 
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
36 months (originally), extended to 42 months
Project cost: 
€ 10,441,618.80
Project funding: 

AVL List GmbH, Austria.

Jürgen Rechberger
Other participating organisations: 
Beneficiary name Country
J. Eberspächer GmbH & Co. KG, Esslingen (JE) Germany
Topsoe Fuel Cell A/S, Lyngby (TOFC) Denmark
Volvo Technology AB, Gothenburg (Volvo) Sweden
Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Jülich (FZJ) Germany


Results or Deliverables files: 
J. Rechberger, SAE International Journal of Commercial Vehicles 01/01/2013, none, "Fuel Cell Auxiliary Power Units for HeavyDuty Truck Anti-Idling"