By Product EnergyWednesday 30th July 2014
By products of industrial and chemical processes present headaches for many, sometimes they can be useful, but often they are harmful or only fit for landfill. In Finland VTT Technical Research Centre has developed a pilot-scale power plant based on fuel cells that produces electricity from hydrogen generated as a by-product of a sodium chlorate process at a high electric efficiency and is the first of its kind in the Nordic Countries.
The pilot power plant has been in operation at Kemira Chemicals Oy’s site in Finland since January 2014. When it is scaled into commercial scales, the equipment enables the reduction of energy consumption of the electrolysis process used for sodium chlorate production by 10–20%. The Kemira site’s annual electricity consumption is approximately 578 GWh.
The electric power of the pilot plant is approximately 50 kW. The total electrical efficiency of the system, including the fuel utilisation ratio and the power losses due to auxiliary equipment and power electronics, is approximately 44%, while the fuel cell itself is operating at an electrical efficiency of 54%. The power plant is based on PEM fuel cells - the same technology that is considered most promising for the fuel cell vehicles.
At the moment, the low-temperature fuel cell at the site operates at approximately 60 °C. In the future, utilization of the waste heat produced by the system is expected to also improve. This is achieved through development of fuel cell materials, which enable higher operating temperatures.
The project also provides important information on the reliability of the auxiliary systems and components, and the impact of using industrial-quality hydrogen in PEM fuel cells. The strict quality standards governing the utilisation of hydrogen as traffic fuel today are an important factor in the price formation of hydrogen. In the future, a re-evaluation of these standards may facilitate a major drop in the producer price of hydrogen.
So this by product positive could help the further development of fuel cells for all sorts of reasons, including fuel cell cars. This pilot project is obviously drawing attention.
Wednesday 30th July 2014