International Utility Consortium Begins Tests on Fuel Cell System for Home Heat & Power
Fuel cell developer Acumentrics Corporation and European heating appliance market leader Merloni Termosanitari (MTS) Group have formed a consortium with major European and North American utilities to demonstrate and field trial a residential solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) micro combined heat and power (mCHP) system.
Six leading utilities — British Gas (Centrica), EnBW, GDF SUEZ, EON, Kiwa Gas Technology (representing Dutch gas trading company GasTerra) and ENMAX Green Power Inc., a subsidiary of ENMAX Energy Corporation, have joined a consortium to test and demonstrate Acumentrics tubular SOFC-based mCHP systems. Several other organizations are expected to join before the end of the year.
The system — the first fully enclosed residential CHP unit — is designed to meet the power and heating needs of an average-size European home using a 1 kilowatt tubular solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) in combination with a 24 kilowatt condensing boiler, operating on natural gas. Acumentrics and MTS demonstrated the system to potential utility partners at the ELCO facility in Hechingen last October.
To support the introduction of SOFC mCHP technology into the market, Acumentrics, MTS and the utilities have designed a laboratory and field trial program to evaluate the reliability and performance of the technology. Utilities participating in the consortium will fine tune the product through the final stages of market introduction in a three-phase program including shared lab demonstration, on-site evaluation at consortium member sites, and initial field trials at their customer sites.
“Our objectives in designing this program are to allow potential partners to observe first-hand the reliability, operating flexibility, rapid start time and energy efficiency of our tubular SOFC-based mCHP systems and to provide them with the confidence to proceed to field trials of the systems,” said Gary Simon, Acumentrics’ President and CEO. “This program provides an extremely cost effective way to get hands-on experience with a technology that is sure to revolutionize home energy systems. Our tubular systems have significant advantages over the flat-plate systems in conventional SOFCs.”
In addition to saving the average homeowner hundreds of Euros annually, Simon said, the units can meter excess electricity back to the grid, and in the longer term, could be connected to solar or wind power for hybrid electricity. Acumentrics’ CHP units have passed initial qualification in Japan as safe for home heating-and-power use, and testing has begun at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop US standards for SOFCs.
“There is a tremendous demand for energy efficient technologies in Europe,” said Heinz Freese, Team Manager, Kiwa Gas Technology. “In order to accelerate market adoption of these novel technologies the Netherlands plans to provide around EUR 100Million in mCHP subsidies over the next 10 years. Participating in this novel, collaborative program will accelerate our testing process and allow our partners to proceed to field trials in the next two years,” he added.
About MTS Group
The MTS Group is a leading international company in the heating and water heating sector. In 2007 the Group recorded sales totaling about EUR 1.2 billion; 7.1 million pieces were manufactured in 24 production units located in 10 countries; it has 7,200 employees and 44 subsidiaries in 24 countries and a sales network which covers over 150 countries. The Group offers a complete range of products, systems and services mainly under the brands Ariston, Chaffoteaux & Maury and Elco. The Group demonstrates its commitment to energy efficiency issues through significant investments in renewable energies and in the development of sophisticated energy saving products.
Acumentrics Corporation (http://www.acumentrics.com/) is an industry leader in Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC) systems. Acumentrics’ industry leading SOFC technology is based on a unique, durable, fuel-flexible, tubular ceramics-based technology and has exceeded performance standards in U.S. Department of Energy Solid-State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) Phase I tests. Acumentrics’ SOFC systems have run for over 10,000 hours, have demonstrated the ability to operate for 1,000 hours on conventional JP-8 fuel and became the first biogas-fueled SOFC system in an installation at the innovative GlashusEtt environmental information center in Stockholm. Acumentrics is the recipient of a 2007 New England Innovation Award from the Smaller Business Association of New England. The company also provides Rugged Uninterruptible Power Supplies (Rugged-UPS(TM)) for military and industrial power conditioning, backup, and other mission critical applications. Acumentrics’ Rugged-UPS(TM) products are trusted in punishing environments with over 50,000 units deployed in military and industrial situations.