- Alternative fuels and fuel cells for carbon neutral mtu solutions
- Rolls-Royce 250 kW demonstrator testing standby, main and UPS power supply functionality
Another new technology – the hydrogen fuel cell – is currently being deployed at Rolls-Royce’s Power Systems division’s Friedrichshafen plant, where a 250 kW demonstrator is in the process of being installed to test future zero-carbon energy systems and introduce them to customers. “We firmly believe that fuel cell technology must make an enormous contribution to successful energy recovery. That’s why Rolls-Royce sees it as its mission to take a pioneering role in fuel cell applications,” said Andreas Schell, CEO of Rolls-Royce Power Systems. “Fuel cells should form a key part of our product portfolio for sustainable solutions.”
Why fuel cells? Fuel cells have very high efficiency levels when generating electricity from hydrogen and oxygen. When running on pure hydrogen, they emit zero emissions – just water vapor – as well as being low noise, low maintenance and vibration free. “The biggest benefit is when they run on regeneratively produced hydrogen, because this allows emissions of polluting and climate-damaging gases to be totally eliminated. This gives fuel cells enormous potential to become an important technology for decarbonising power and propulsion systems,” added Dr. Peter Riegger, vice president of Rolls-Royce PowerLab.
Much has already happened at Rolls-Royce Power Systems Plant 1 in Friedrichshafen in recent months, with the complex hydrogen infrastructure – which requires a lot of investment – now installed and the container fully configured with its four low-temperature PEM fuel cell modules. In fact, this took a lot of work from engineers in a variety of locations. Designed at the company’s factories in Ruhstorf (Bavaria) and Friedrichshafen, for safety reasons, the container has two separate compartments for fuel cells and batteries, as well as a series of power electronics. The control system has now been fully refined, cooling and air conditioning are on the roof and a rack system allows for simple maintenance, allowing individual system modules to be replaced as needed.
Power systems using fuel cell modules from the automotive industry were put to the test on the test bench and Rolls-Royce engineers are more than satisfied with the results: “The bending power characteristics and performance are excellent and , as expected, there is no vibration or no noise,” explained Dr. Peter Riegger. The next step is to connect all four demo modules together in the container and connect the batteries and power circuit. Commissioning is scheduled for the second half of 2021.
The demonstrator will be used for testing purposes and to show interested parties what applications the system is suitable for. This includes standby power, mains power, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and black start capability, allowing the system to be started from scratch without a mains connection. The system comprises modules for fuel cells, batteries, fire protection, air conditioning and security systems, refrigeration, gas supply and automation.
Please see our White paper for detailed information on fuel cell technology.
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