In a view to test future
zero-carbon energy systems and present them to customers, British luxury
automobile maker, Rolls-Royce, is in the process of setting up 250 kW
demonstrator to test the new hydrogen fuel cell technology, at its Friedrichshafen
plant of Power Systems Division located in Germany.
Andreas Schell, CEO of Rolls-Royce
Power Systems, said, “We firmly believe that fuel cell technology is set to
make a huge contribution to a successful energy turnaround. That's why
Rolls-Royce sees it as its mission to assume a pioneering role in fuel cell
applications. Fuel cells shall form an elementary 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
run on pure hydrogen, they give off zero emissions – only water vapor – as well
as being low-noise, low-maintenance, and vibration-free. Dr Peter Riegger, Vice
President Rolls-Royce PowerLab, informed, “The greatest benefit is when they
are run on regeneratively produced hydrogen because this enables polluting and
climate-damaging gas emissions to be fully eliminated. This gives fuel cells a
huge potential to become a major technology for decarbonizing propulsion and
electrical power supply systems.”
Much has already happened at
Rolls-Royce Power Systems' Friedrichshafen Plant 1 in recent months, with the
complex hydrogen infrastructure – which requires a lot of investment – now
installed and the container all set up complete with its four low-temperature
PEM fuel cell modules. Indeed, this took quite a lot of work by engineers
across a variety of sites. Designed at the company's plants in Ruhstorf
(Bavaria) and Friedrichshafen, safety reasons dictate the container has two
separate compartments for fuel cells and batteries, plus a host of power
electronics. The control system has now been fully refined, cooling and air
conditioning are on the roof, and a rack system enables simple maintenance,
allowing individual system modules to be replaced as required.
The energy systems using fuel cell
modules from the automotive sector have been put through their paces on the
test stand, and Rolls-Royce engineers are more than happy with the results.
“Power flexing characteristics and performance are excellent, and as expected
there are no vibrations or no loud noises,” explained Riegger. The next step is
to connect all four demo modules together in the container and hook up the
batteries and power circuit. Commissioning is slated for the second half of 2021.
The demonstrator will be used for
test purposes, and to show interested parties which applications the system is
suitable for. These include standby power, prime power, uninterruptible power
supplies (UPS) and black start capability, allowing the system to be started
from scratch without a mains connection. The system consists of fuel cell
modules, batteries, fire protection, air conditioning and safety systems,
cooling, gas supply and automation.