VTT, the Technical Research Centre of Finland began testing a large-scale prototype of a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) that, according to the organization, will provide cheap and efficient grid power from biogas and natural gas.
Using a single 10 kW planar SOFC stack, the system is capable of generating clean energy for a typical apartment block throughout an entire year.
Unlike the “Bloom Box” (Bloom Energy Server), developed in 2010, the VTT fuel cell system is much larger. Besides this, the Bloom system is designed to provide electricity for office buildings and similar applications, while the VTT produces energy for the commercial electrical grid.
Currently, some of the system’s components are prototypes and have not yet reached mass production. VTT also claims the system has worked for more than 1,500 hours since the beginning of November, last year.
To generate electricity, a SOFC uses electrochemical conversion from the oxidization of a fuel. The SOFC’s electrolyte is composed of a ceramic or solid oxide material. VTT says its solid oxide fuel cell can use a variety of fuels, including biogas. It also has great advantages like fuel flexibility, low emissions and stability.
To develop the SOFC technology, the non-profit research organization, VTT, has collaborated with Aalto University and Lappeenranta University of Technology from Finland.