One of the two first micro fuel cell-based combined heat and power (FC-CHP) units have been officially installed in Munich by the company Elcore

Private homes get micro fuel cell-based systems in the basement

Wednesday 11 Sep 13

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Eva Ravn Nielsen
Center Manager
DTU Energy
+45 46 77 57 82

The micro-CHP system

A micro-CHP (combined heat and power) system is a small heat engine (power plant) which provides all the power for an individual building; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, mechanical energy and electric power. The purpose is to utilize more of the energy in the fuel.

The reason for using such systems is that heat engines, such as steam power plants which generate the electric power needed for modern life by burning fuel, are not very efficient.

Modern power plants are limited to efficiencies of about 33 - 60% at most, so 40 - 67% of the energy is exhausted as waste heat. In a "micro-combined heat and power system" (micro-CHP), a CHP system converts 15%–42% of the primary heat to electricity, and most of the remaining heat is captured for hot water or space heating. In total, as much as 90% of the heat from the primary energy source goes to useful purposes when heat production does not exceed the demand.

The two first micro fuel cell-based combined heat and power (FC-CHP) units have been officially installed in Germany (Homburg and Munich) by two companies of the European ene.field project.

These two units are the firsts of around 1,000 micro FC-CHP units that will be installed throughout the project period of five years, and the installation is a triumph of DTU Energy Conversion’s FCH Test Center, which coordinates the analysis of the EU-project. The 26 participants of the Ene.field project consists of research institutes like DTU and leading European developers of fuel cell technologies for ordinary households, among those the Danish companies Dantherm Power and DONG Energy.

The FC-CHP units of which 90 will be installed in Denmark will be actively monitored in dwellings across a range of European countries. The outcome of this to date largest European study of effectiveness and efficiency of micro-CHP will provide very valuable, practical and up-to-date dataset on domestic energy consumption and micro-CHP applicability across Europe.

By extending the learning from the practical implications of installing, operating and supporting a fleet of fuel cells in houses throughout a larger number of European countries and dealing with the variety of European real world customers, the ene.field project seeks to demonstrate the environmental and economic imperative of micro FC-CHP and lay the foundations for an improved market exploitation in the near future. The two German companies of Elcore and BAXI INNOTECH had the honor of starting the project.

“The ene.field project provides great support to increase the number of systems operating in European homes. The data collected in the households will serve to generate a comprehensive report on the potential of fuel cells in Europe. In a typical household, the Elcore 2400 can save up to 40% of primary energy and at the same time significantly reduce energy costs “, said Dr. Manfred Stefener, Elcore CEO.

“Energy has become a valuable resource. Our fuel cell heating appliance Gamma Premio ensures that it is managed as efficiently as possible. This needs-based type of on-the-spot heat and energy provision is considered highly efficient and has a total efficiency of 96 per cent. Compared with all other known heating technologies it performs significantly better,” said Guido Gummert, Managing Director of BAXI INNOTECH.

Head of the FCH Test Center, Eva Ravn Nielsen, DTU Energy Conversion, is happy that the test has started.

"Through the project we’ll get practical experience across countries and enterprises with the new efficient energy technologies. We’ll show the huge environmentally and economically potential in fuel cells for homes, and I am happy, that the business and science community can work together to pave the way for deployment of micro- CHP in large scale at the European market," said center manager Eva Ravn Nielsen.

The 12 participating countries consist of Denmark, Austria, Germany, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, UK, Ireland, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Slovenia.

Further information about the project can be found at www.enefield.eu or by contacting the Head of FCH Test Center, Eva Ravn Nielsen, DTU Energy Conversion , tel: (+45) 4677 5782 , email: evrn@dtu.dk

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