Versa Power’s Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Stacks Surpass 5000 Hours Of Operation In Scale-Up To Commercial Size

March 25, 2009 by Jeff Shepard

Versa Power Systems Inc., a developer of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC), announced that a pair of electricity-producing stacks built for the U.S. Department of Energy have passed 5000 hours of continuous operation, an important reference point along the road to developing the technology on a commercial scale.

Each of Versa Power’s SOFC stacks generates 10 kW of clean, near-zero emission electricity. The research is a focus of DOE’s Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) program because fuel cells are one of the most attractive technologies for generating electricity from an environmental perspective. Their environmentally responsible emission profile, extremely high operating efficiencies and fuel flexibility enable their use in a wide range of applications.

In work under the SECA program conducted in collaboration with its partner FuelCell Energy, Inc., Versa Power validated the production methods planned for building SOFC stacks that will be incorporated in power plants; expanded the range of temperatures at which the stacks could operate; and passed an independent audit of the anticipated costs to manufacture systems on a commercial scale.

Based on success leading to this stage of the effort, DOE has approved the next phase of the program, which includes larger power output demonstrations, continued enhancements in its durability and efficiency, and further cost reduction.

"What’s worth emphasizing here is that while we increased the stack’s power 10-fold, we were able to maintain both its efficiency and its longevity," said Robert Stokes, Versa Power’s CEO. "Our team did a tremendous job in achieving the program goals in only 22 months."

Versa Power will continue to run one of the two DOE stacks, demonstrating its ability to operate over longer periods. Systems incorporating one or more of Versa Power’s 10 kW stacks – especially when the heat they generate is captured for so-called Combined Heat and Power applications – are projected to include hospitals, hotels, nursing care facilities and schools. In addition to more immediate commercialization opportunities, Versa Power states that it is advancing steadily in providing the SOFC technology to achieve the DOE SECA goals for a cost effective high efficiency central generation coal plant with greater than 99% carbon capture, significantly reduced water consumption and near zero emissions.