Jülich --Scientists from the Jülich Institute for Energy and Climate Research and the NRW Police have now successfully completed a joint project. Collaboration focused on securing the emergency power supply of a police station in the region, using a module of direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC). During the nine-month test phase, the system managed to ensure the required 72 hours of emergency operation.
In the opinion of Dr. Martin Müller, the plant was particularly pleased that the plant was able to provide the required performance both in winter at temperatures below zero degrees and in summer at more than 35 degrees. The scientist supervised the project together with his colleague Michael Hehemann at the Jülich Institute for Electrochemical Process Engineering.
For the module for the emergency power supply of a "digital radio for authorities and organizations with safety tasks" (BOS), the researchers combined two direct methanol systems with two kilowatts each and integrated an inverter to provide the required alternating voltage. The advantages: DMFC fuel cells convert the liquid fuel directly into electricity. Methanol has a very high energy density, the fuel cells are easy to handle, the fuel is easy to transport and refill. And: Unlike conventional diesel emergency generators, there are no critical emissions. In terms of lifetime, the scientists have made great progress: A Jülich DMFC system ran for more than 20,000 hours in continuous operation. Preliminary investigations have shown that a life expectancy of ten years is realistic for an emergency power supply.
Michael Cieslik from the Central Police Department in Duisburg accompanied the project from a user perspective and coordinated the tests for the police. "The successful completion of the project is a definite recommendation to develop the prototype of the Jülich fuel cell system and to bring it into series production, for example for emergency power supply."
From the point of view of Jülich scientists, further research projects are now expected to help reduce the costs for the plants. In doing so, they rely, for example, on new materials for the membrane electrode unit, the core element of each fuel cell. Innovative coating techniques for the so-called bipolar plates are also investigated. Both projects could contribute to the use of less precious metals, which would be cost-effective.
The project was funded with funding from the Helmholtz validation fund of EUR 900,000.