Siemens has successfully tested a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology that incorporates its high power density technology being developed under the US Department of Energy’s (DOE)
A prototype 5kW-class complete system using the SECA technology has operated for 2,800 hours and continues to operate at the Siemens facility near
According to a statement, the successful operation of the SECA system is especially noteworthy because there has been no degradation of cell or system performance during the period of operation. With lifetime a key factor in the commercialisation of fuel cells, Siemens’ program is the only SECA program believed to have achieved no cell degradation during extended operation. While the test duration required by the DOE was 1,500 hours, the system continues to be operated to determine lifetime, peak power and efficiency potential as the performance of the cells improve. They will also be put through further tests in the coming months to assess the robustness of the new stack technology.
Siemens’ new high power density cells are a further development of the tubular cell design and are said to represent a significant step forward towards commercialisation of SOFC systems. This new technology has already demonstrated volumetric power density four times greater than the tubular cells, which translates into significantly reduced volume and reduced cost per kW. A number of configurations have already been tested, and further development and tests are planned to qualify the optimum system configurations.
Recently, Siemens implemented a number of design, material and process changes, and this latest SECA system test validates new manufacturing processes intended to enhance reliability and reduce cost. The next steps are to continue to develop the high power density technology as part of a program that merges the subsequent phases of the SECA program with DOE’s coal-based fuel cell systems program. The ultimate objective of this program is for SOFCs to provide clean power fuelled by syngas from domestic coal resources as part of DOE’s FutureGen program.