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									       Fuel Cells:
  Current Successes,
Challenges and Prospects
           Brant A. Peppley
 Queen’s-RMC Fuel Cell Research Centre

            Queen’s MiniU
              May 2008
      …including a
Crash Course on Fuel Cells
           Brant A. Peppley
   Canada Research Chair in Fuel Cells
  Polymeric (Acid) Electrolyte
Membrane Fuel Cell Operation on
       Hydrogen and Air

                      This is the PEM
                      fuel cell that
                      everyone thinks of
                      when we talk about
                      the fuel cell car

                      It is the classic
                      Ballard fuel cell

                      but it is only one of
                      many types of fuel
A Sample of the Types of Fuel Cells

• Alkaline (AFC)
• Phosphoric Acid (PAFC)
• Molten Carbonate (MCFC, Direct Fuel Cell, DFC)
• Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM, SPE(TM), PEFC)
  – Hydrogen - Air
  – Direct Methanol - Air
• Solid Oxide (SOFC)
      Alkaline Fuel Cell (AFC)
Good Attributes
• Long operational history on NASA space missions.
  (Apollo, Shuttle)
• Achieves power generating efficiencies of up to
• Uses alkaline potassium hydroxide as the
  electrolyte and low cost catalyst.
• Low temperature <60ºC(140ºF)
• Vulnerable to CO2 poisoning
• Boiling hot “DranoTM” not a very friendly liquid
             AFC Application

Three 30 kW fuel cells used
on the orbiter.
     Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cell
Good Attributes
• The first commercially available fuel cell. Approx. 300 units,
  200 kW each, sold worldwide.
• Generates electricity at more than 40% efficiency. Overall
  efficiency is nearly 85% if heat is used for cogeneration.
  Operates at 200ºC(400 ºF) atmospheric pressure.
• Relatively tolerant to CO and other contaminants
• Work well with bio-methane (waste water treatment plants)
• Requires a liquid electrolyte management system to
  maintain concentration of hot phosphoric acid.
• Platinum electrodes susceptible to corrosion.
             PAFC Products
• UTC Fuel Cells PC-25 currently in operation
   – Eight PC-25 systems in New York City (first one in
   – One PC-25 in Köln-Rodenkirchen, Germany
                              - Portland, Oregon

                              200-kilowatt PC25 that
                              converts anaerobic digester
                              gas generated by the
                              wastewater treatment facility
                              into usable heat and
                              electricity for the facility.
                  RWE Installation

Stahl, Knut - Experiences from the PAFC Operation with Sewage Gas 3rd
BFC Net Workshop Jan. 2005. Downloads.
New York City WWTP Fuel
     Cell Systems
       Performance Verification
            Report – PAFC
     Results of 30 day test program for a PC25C
     Operated by NY Power Authority May - June 2004
          Test       Electric Power     Heat Prod’n      Potential
        Condition      Generated       Performance        CHP
                     Power    Effic     Heat     Effic
         Setpoint)                                         (%)
                     Del’d     (%)    Produced    (%)
                     (kW)               (kW)
           200       193.1    36.8     298.3     56.9      93.8
           150       152.3    38.2     205.2     51.5      89.8
           100       101.5    37.4     140.1     51.7      89.0

Greenhouse Gas Technology Center, EPA, Environmental Technology
Verification Report, September 2004,
        Cost Data (Limited)

• Portland OR reports having spent $1.3 million for
  their 200 kW PAFC system
• The mayor of New York City reports that eight 200
  kW PAFC systems were installed at a cost of $13
  million. Based on these numbers the average cost
  per unit is $1.6 million or $8000 per kW
• Compared to $1370 per kW for the conventional
  engine and $1500 per kW target price for incremental
  additional capacity for power companies.
Molten Carbonate / Direct Fuel
        Cell (MCFC)
Good Attributes
• Well suited for distributed power market.
• High fuel-to-electricity efficiencies.
• Capable of internal reforming = directly consume
  hydrocarbon fuels (e.g., nat. gas)
• 650ºC(1200ºF) and atmospheric pressure = good
  quality waste heat.
• Cost reduction below about $1800 per kW is
• Start up and shutdown is slow and load
  following is difficult
           MCFC Products

• Numerous installations around world utilising
  bio-methane from waste treatment
   – King County, Washington (1 MW)
   – Kirin Brewery Co., Ltd. (250 kW)
   – Seibu Sewage Treatment Center, Sewage
     Bureau, Hukuoka City (250 kW)
• Demonstration on gasified coal
• 1 MW system to be installed by Enbridge Gas
  in Toronto this June
1 MW MCFC Products

             May 4, 2005
             News Release

             King County
             earned national
             award for
             electricity from
             waste water
             treatment plant
             methane gas
1 MW Turbine/1.2 MW MCFC
  Proton Exchange Membrane
• Operates at relatively low temperature (< 90ºC/200ºF) =
  domestic hot water co-generation.
• High power density, fast response.
• Suited for applications, - such as automobiles and buses -
  where quick startup and load following is required.
• Solid polymer electrolyte means no corrosive liquids to
• Miniaturisation relatively easy.
• Require pure hydrogen. Susceptible to poisons.
• Cost still needs to be reduced. Platinum catalyst is too
            PEMFC Products
•   Material handling equipment (forklift trucks)
•   Backup Power
•   Residential combined heat and power
•   Microelectronics power
•   Fuel cell buses
•   Fuel cell cars
              Forklift Truck Battery
   Fuel cell powered material handling equipment for large
   warehouse operations have already shown a cost benefit
   based on productivity and

                                  WalMart successfully field tested General
                                  Hydrogen forklifts
                                  (Geoffrey Ballard’s most recent company)

Two units field tested at GM and Fedex.
GM have shown there is a real cost benefit of using Hydrogenics fuel
cell forklift trucks instead of battery power forklift trucks.
   Backup Power Systems
                     12 kW
                                  Hydrogenics Awarded
                                  Supply Agreement
                                  From American Power
                                  Conversion to Deliver
                                  Up to 500 Fuel Cell
                                  Power Modules for
                                  Backup Power
   Batteries                      Applications

                  1 tank of H2
 20 minutes

For e-commerce systems in urban centres this is
the only practical power backup option
Residential CHP PEM Fuel Cell
       Power Systems
                                   Units supply electrical
                                   power, hot water and
                                   space heating for a
                                   typical Japanese

 Natural Gas Fuelled – 1 kW

To date approx. 2200 unites have been installed in
     World’s Longest Lasting Cell
                              Angstrom Power of
                              North Vancouver

                              (ironically located in the
                              building that Ballad Power
                              originally occupied)

In January, Angstrom released a prototype for Motorola's
SLVR phone, with double the talk time of the lithium ion
battery currently being sold with the phone. The phone also
recharges in only 10 minutes, vs. several hours for lithium
ion batteries.
                   PEMFC Buses

                                           Daimler Buses using
                                           Ballard stacks have
                                           accumulated more
For the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver
                                           than two million
the B.C. government is assembling the
                                           kilometres of
largest collection of hydrogen fuel-cell
buses on the planet. Twenty buses for
$47 million.
 When can I lease a fuel cell car?
 This July according to Honda’s press release of last

Q. Where can I test drive or lease an FCX Clarity? How
   much does it cost?
A. A limited number of FCX Clarity vehicles will be
   available for lease only in the Torrance, Santa Monica
   and Irvine areas in mid-2008. The lease amount will be
   around $600 per month for three years and it includes
   maintenance. As hydrogen-supply infrastructure
   expands, Honda will make more of these remarkable
   cars available to the public.
                   Honda Clarity FCX

                                                       Honda engineers estimated
                                                       three years ago that its
                                                       previous fuel-cell cars cost
                                                       more than $1 million to

Duleep, who completed a fuel-cell
vehicle study this year for the U.S.
Department of Energy, believes
Honda has cut its production costs to
between $120,000 and $140,000 per
[Honda to Deliver 200 Fuel-Cell Autos Through 2011 (Update2) – Bloomberg
Japan Article May 21 2008]
     Direct methanol fuel cells
• Similar to the PEM hydrogen cells in that they both use a
  polymer membrane as the electrolyte.
• The fuel is liquid methanol, eliminating the need for
  hydrogen storage.
• Efficiencies of about 40% are expected with this type of
  fuel cell.
• 60-190ºC(140-375ºF)
• First fuel cell to be truly commercial (EFOY)
• Require even more platinum than hydrogen fuel cells
• Lifetime limited
             DMFC Products

Available for camper vans
0.6 – 1.6 kWh per day
   Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC)
Good Attributes
• Able to use natural gas as fuel with minimal or no pre-
• Uses a hard ceramic material as the electrolyte (no
  corrosive liquid handling). No platinum catalysts
• Operating temperature 980ºC /1800ºF = good quality
  waste heat.
• Potentially very low manufacturing costs (cheap materials
  for fuel cell stack)
• Slow start up and load following
• High temperature balance of plant materials required
                 SOFC Products
                  Natural gas
                  1 kW residential

                  Ceramic Fuel Cells

250 W portable
Nanodynamics                           70 W battery charger

           SOFC Products
SOFC Systems have been demonstrated for
distributed power applications
                100 kW SOFC cogeneration system
                installed at the village of Westervoort,
                near Arnhem, Netherlands (20,000 hrs

                220 kW SOFC/gas turbine hybrid
                system at National Fuel Cell
                Research Center (NFCRC), Irvine,
                California - the world's first!
• Like batteries specific types of fuel cells are
  best suited for certain applications.
• Fuel cell products have had success in
  niches where more energy is required than
  available from batteries and less power is
  required than provided by a power plant (or
• Fuel cells are ideal for applications where
  very clean and efficient power is needed
  (Interior and sensitive environments)
Biomass fuelled fuel

Prospect for addressing
GHG Emissions and
Climate Change
    All living things are powered by
               biofuel cells

             A fuel cell powered vehicle…

                                      A fuel cell powered

Insert hay here

                  Toby the Horse
      Sources of Biomass
• Waste streams of carbohydrates
  – landfill
  – waste water treatment plants
  – wood waste
  – agricultural waste
  – industrial waste streams
• Virgin biomass
  – wood
  – grasses
  – not corn!!
                         Used with permission
   Waste Water Treatment
       Plant Systems
• Fuel cell systems
  can be deployed in
  modular increments
  for smaller communities.
• Fuel cell systems can utilize lower
  quality gas than required for combustion
Prospects for Biomass Fuelled
         Fuel Cells
• Biomass-fuelled fuel cell systems are technically
  feasible and have been operated for extended
  periods with good reliability and performance
• Economic feasibility is much more difficult to
  assess but it appears that costs are too high
   – The impact of carbon credits on the
     economics of biomass fuelled fuel cell
     systems may be a significant factor in the near
• Utilising waste biomass for power generation will
  not solve our energy and GHG problems but it
  can significantly reduce GHG emissions
            Prospects for Direct
               Bio-Fuel Cells
   • A direct biofuel cell would be the closest
        approach to producing energy by the same
        method as found in nature.
                               • The challenges of “wiring” an
                                 electrical connection to an
                                 enzyme to achieve
                                 acceptable power density
                                 are daunting
                               • Breakthroughs receive
(   significant press coverage
                                 but are far from practical
A major breakthrough is

Prospects for completely
new ideas in fuel cells
             New Ideas
• Now that the stock market “hype” is over
  researchers are looking deeper for new
  ideas and finding them
• New membranes for PEMFCs are
  allowing higher temperature operation
  while new ceramics for SOFCs are
  bringing the temperature down. In both
  cases these developments lead to lower
             New Ideas
• Alkaline electrolyte membranes have
  been developed that are resistant to
  poisoning by CO2 leading to the
  development of better DMFCs and
  possibly direct ethanol fuel cells
• FCRC researchers are searching for new
  catalysts and materials that will make it
  possible to use bio-methane and lower
  purity hydrogen directly in low
  temperature fuel cells
             New Ideas
• More researchers from more disciplines
  are becoming aware of the challenges in
  fuel cells leading to innovative ideas in
• Biomimicry is being used to rethink the
  design of fuel cells
• The prospect of a breakthrough is very
  good (we are working very hard to
  make it happen at Queen’s)
An enthusiastic group looking
     for a breakthrough!

  Brant Peppley
  613-547-6700 ext. 115
(by Irving Berlin)

Blue Skies, shining on me
Nothing but Blue Skies, do I see
Blue bird singing a song
Nothing but Blue Skies, from now on.

Never saw the sun shining so bright
Never saw things going so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When your in love my how they fly

Blue days, all of them gone
Nothing but Blue Skies, from now on.
(based on Blue Skies by Irving Berlin)

Fuel Cells, clearing the air
Nothing but fuel cells, everywhere
I. C. E., buried and gone
Nothing but fuel cells, from now on.

Never saw the sun shining so bright
Never saw things going so right
Noticing the cars hurrying buy
With a fuel cell they silently glide

Smog days, all of them gone
Nothing but fuel cells, from now on.
      Fuel Cell System Design

      Automotive Fuel Cell System
              Super Capacitors

Air Compressor and

                                                 Hydrogen Tanks
                                     Fuel Cell Stacks

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