Fuel Cell Technology Creates Clean Energy from Waste Water
Fuel Cell Technology Creates Clean Energy from Waste Water
author Added by FuelCellsWorks, December 17, 2015

Long-life fuel cell system offers 60% efficiency for electricity production

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a long-life fuel cell system that will demonstrate high-efficiency cogeneration of heat and power from biogas produced in connection with waste water treatment in Italy.

The five-year project, entitled DEMOSOFC, is a collaboration between fuel cell developers Convion and Elcogen which aims to develop a 50kW fuel cell system. The long-life fuel cell system will have an efficiency of 60% for electricity production and a total efficiency of 85%. According to the companies, the adoption of such systems into widespread use has been hindered by their short service life and high price.

Within the project, VTT will demonstrate fuel cell systems for high-efficiency cogeneration of heat and power from biogas produced in connection with waste water treatment in Italy. The fuel cell plant will be the first of its kind in Europe in terms of size and technology.

Waste water treatment consumes large quantities of heat and power, but at the same time the process produces significant amounts of methane-containing biogas. Treatment plants are therefore good application sites for local cogeneration of heat and power, and fuel cells are a technological alternative for the purpose.

The biogas-fed fuel cell system being developed in the DEMOSOFC project will satisfy 30% of the electrical needs of the waste water treatment and 100% of the normal thermal needs of the treatment process.

Convion and VTT will install a fuel cell plant in the Collegno waste water treatment plant in Turin. The companies note that there are tens of thousands of waste water treatment plants in Europe and, due to similar treatment processes, the DEMOSOFC concept can be easily replicated. In addition, the modular structure of Convion's fuel cell plant enables scaling of energy production in accordance with the waste water treatment plant's gas production capacity.

VTT project manager Olli Himanen, said: "The companies participating in the project can expect to benefit from new competitive products and efficient value chains. Simultaneously, we are making a contribution to a growing European fuel cell industry.” 

VTT coordinated the creation of the consortium. This project will also support R&D at Finnish companies and assist them in participating in the EU Horizon 2020 projects.