Ceramic Fuel Cells Develops More Powerful Fuel Cell

September 24, 2006 by Jeff Shepard

Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd. (CFCL) announced a further major step towards commercialization with the development of its next generation of fuel cells. The company claims that these cells have demonstrated significant performance improvements, particularly in power density, and will be incorporated into m-CHP units to provide clean power for homes. The new fuel cell and re-designed system components are designed to optimize the efficiency of the fuel cell stack and reduce the system cost in preparation for volume manufacture. The new stack is also more easily integrated into distributed generation appliances.

These new cells are claimed to be more than twice as powerful as CFCL's current cells, and to match or exceed other solid oxide fuel cell figures in terms of power density, which is measured by how many milli-watts of electricity are generated by each square centimeter of fuel cell. Early versions of CFCL's new cells achieved a power density of more than 200 mW/cm². Current versions of the new cells have doubled that again, bringing the power density to more than 400 mW/cm², and further improvements are expected.

Higher power density means that CFCL can produce the same amount of electricity from a much smaller fuel cell stack. A smaller stack is cheaper and much easier to integrate into commercial appliances like m-CHP units. The new cell technology is designed to be highly efficient, with electric efficiency of 50% and significantly better fuel utilisation of up to 85%. The total efficiency of the integrated m-CHP unit will be higher still, as 'waste' heat is captured and re-used.

The new fuel cell stacks are designed to produce 1kW of electricity and significantly less than 1kW of heat. Reducing the amount of heat produced by the fuel cell stack means the m-CHP unit can generate efficient baseload electricity all year round. Other types of m-CHP units that produce more heat may have to be left idle (or else waste the heat) for several months each year.