1-kW fuel cell heads for Japan

Ebara Ballard, an associate company of Ballard Power Systems, has unveiled an engineering prototype of a one-kilowatt proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell.

Ebara Ballard, an associate company of Ballard Power Systems, has unveiled an engineering prototype of a one-kilowatt proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell stationary generator for the Japanese residential market.

The natural gas-fuelled cogeneration unit is the product of a collaboration involving Ballard subsidiary Ballard Generation Systems (BGS), Ebara Ballard, Ebara Corporation and Tokyo Gas.

‘This fuel cell generator will provide electric power for Japanese homes and apartments as well as heat for space heating and hot water,’ said Jim Kirsch, President of Ballard Generation Systems.

The unit itself comprises a Ballard fuel cell, Tokyo Gas technology in a reformer made by Ebara Ballard, and a water tank warmed with heat from the fuel cell. Four prototype units built at Ebara Ballard’s plant in Fujisawa, Japan, have been shipped to Tokyo Gas and others in Japan for testing and demonstration.

The prototype generator reached DC gross electrical efficiency of 42 per cent (lower heating value ‘LHV’), and heat recovery efficiency of 43 per cent (LHV) in in-house testing. Ebara Ballard is continuing to work to improve performance, reliability and to reduce costs.

Tokyo Gas is the largest natural gas company in Japan both in terms of the number of customers – over 8.5 million in total – and gas sales volume. Founded in 1885, its service area now covers 3,129 square kilometres in the heart of the Kanto region, Tokyo and neighbouring prefectures, the largest and most densely populated region in Japan with a total of some 40 million people.

Tokyo Gas is conducting research and development in many areas including cost reduction, safety enhancement and efficient utilisation of natural gas, and fuel-processing technologies.