This technology is related to the development of a highly innovative, energy efficient and environmentally friendly power production unit for decentralized (on or off grid) power generation. The unit has the capability for combined heat and power (CHP) production, as needed. The device is able to convert the fuel (LPG/NG/Biogas) into electrical and thermal power by means of a PEM fuel cell, with intermediate production of hydrogen. The nominal capacity of the power system is 5 kW, while, in the case of CHP, an additional 7kW of thermal energy is produced. Regarding its electrical efficiency, it is greater than 35%, while the total efficiency, when thermal power is included, exceeds 85%. The system consists of the fuel processor, power production unit and the control module.
The system targets decentralized power production, where numerous applications have been identified: telecoms, marine (boats), transportation (trucks), households, small size farms/biogas production plants. The main needs addressed are the availability of electricity and the use of environmentally friendly and efficient devices. Currently, the target market segment is served by diesel/gasoline generators which rely on mature and relatively low cost technology. However, the proposed system has electrical efficiency twice that of the conventional technology and less than half of its emissions. In addition, it presents lower operating and maintenance costs and noise-free and reliable operation.
Technology Features, Specifications and Advantages
The unit is of nominal capacity of 5 kW electric power. It can also produce up to 7 kW thermal energy (CHP mode) in the form of hot water. The unit is a multi-fuel one where it can operate with conventional fossil fuels such as propane, liquified petroleum gas (LPG) and Natural gas (NG) or Biogas (BG). The unit generates electrical and thermal power by means of a fuel processor which converts fuel and water into hydrogen while electricity is generated via a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell. It is equipped with a power management system, delivering electrical energy in the required form (DC or AC, grid connected or stand alone). It has the ability to operate in the range of 40-100% of its nominal capacity. Its electrical efficiency is greater than 35% (based on LHV), while total efficiency exceeds 85%.
Currently, the target market segment (remote or back-up power generation) is served by internal combustion engine (ICE) generators which rely on mature and relatively low cost technology. However, the presented technology offers a number of advantages over the conventional technology as shown below:
- Operating cost (Fuel) is more than 2 times lower than that of a conventional diesel generator
- 50% reduced Maintenance Cost (compared to conventional power generators) due to simplicity of construction
- Dramatically reduced emissions (Our technology emits 170 times lower amounts of NOx and HC, 27 times lower amounts of CO and zero amounts of SOx)
- Very low noise and vibration levels
- Improved safety (no flames)
Telecommunication stations: Telecommunications providers rely on backup power to maintain a constant power supply and to ensure the operability of cell towers. In telecommunication stations, our technology offers many advantages which include reliability, low maintenance costs, reduced frequency of refueling and reduced cost.
On- or off- grid households and other buildings: Main benefits of using our technology include: energy savings due to high electrical and overall efficiency, reduced (or zero, depending on fuel) CO2 emissions, essentially elimination of emissions of atmospheric pollutants such as NOx, SOx and particulates, and dramatically reduced noise and vibration level.
Sailing yachts and boats: Βoats longer than 10m need a supplementary power generator for power and/or heat production when docked or in the occasion of failure of the main engine. Our technology offers the same attractive characteristics as in any other mobile application: reliable, economic, quiet, vibration free, and emission free operation.
Trucks: The market for Auxiliary Power Units (APU) for trucks represents an interesting potential opportunity for fuel cell power systems. Replacement of diesel engines with our techonlogy will result in significant fuel savings, drastically reduced emission of pollutants and significantly quieter operation.
Small-size farms with biogas availability: Future and developing markets for our technology include small biogas producers in farms, food industries and food chains. In the biogas field, conventional technologies suffer from unreliable and interrupted operation due to the low heating value of the fuel.
- Small payback time. Attractive ROI
- Highly energy efficient
- Reduced CO2 footprint and no air pollutant emission
- Low operational and maintenance costs
- Highly available for power and heat generation