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Biogas-Powered Solid Oxide Fuel Cell System Featured at Stockholm Environmental Center

Acumentrics Corporation, a developer of solid oxide fuel cells, has shipped a 5 kW fuel-cell generator to the GlashusEtt Environmental Information Center in Stockholm, Sweden, where it will run on biogas.

The generator was purchased by ABB Corporate Research in Västerås, Sweden, together with 8 other Swedish companies and organizations (FMV, Fortum, GlashusEtt, JM, Morphic, SBC, the City of Stockholm and the Swedish Energy Agency). The purpose of the installation is to evaluate state-of-the-art solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology.

We are thrilled to see our units run on carbon-neutral biogas...our ability to run directly off biogas makes our fuel cells extremely practical. While we can run on hydrogen, too, it is great to offer compatibility with logistical, affordable fuels. The renewable aspect is a huge bonus.

—Gary Simon, CEO of Acumentrics

Stockholm has developed a new, eco-friendly, waterfront district called Hammarby Sjöstad which is slated to house some 25,000 residents. The district features solar cells, green roofs, foot paths, environmentally benign building materials, vacuum-assisted refuse collection, and a wastewater treatment plant that produces biogas for the district.

The wastewater treatment plant produces high quality, 97% methane biogas that is piped into apartments for heating and cooking. This same biogas is piped to the Acumentrics fuel cell system. Acumentrics’ solid oxide fuel cells disassociate fuels inside the cell, via in-situ reformation. They run directly from the biogas, without the need for complex pre-processing (reforming) of the fuel.

At present the electricity produced by the fuel cell is put to a load bank, but grid-tie ability is slated for later this year. Acumentrics’ fuel cells have the unique ability to follow loads. Output can be adjusted up or down with no harm to the cells. The company believes this is the first real-world solid oxide fuel cell installation that runs on biogas.



SOFC's ability to run on methane is a real plus. I would like to see them make it in mobile applications like cars.

They have SOFC APUs for airplanes and trucks. Maybe some day they will be under the hoods of cars.


Hate to deliver the bad news. However, before we get too excited just found the list price for this 5 kW unit is $175,000 see It is too big for a car and a heavy car like the Sequel need a continuous 22kW effect for its full cell and a peak system effect of 73kW using the battery. So if it could fit into the Sequel it would cost 175000*(22/5)=$770000 just for the fuel cell. This fuel cell will not be commercially interesting for car use until it hit $4000 for the Sequel sized application and is minimized big time.


The GM volt actually uses a 80kW fuel cell ( This is a puzzle to me because it is way more than needed for range extention. So the solid oxide fuel cell for such an application would be 175000*(80/5) = $2800000. And then we need a car too.


I got a possible explanation for the large 80kW fuel cell in the Volt (the puzzle). It is so big because its real intended commercial application will be a city bus. I think Ballard supplies it and they want to start selling their products ASAP. They know it is not going to be a car. Busses will be the first commercial application of fuel cells for person transportation because they fuel at their garage (easy to set up a hydrogen station) and because busses consume far more fuel a year making it a better economic case than a car. The trade-off between increased vehicle costs and fuel cost savings.
Ballards does not disclose costs for their automotive fuel cells yet. They expect them to be commercially available by 2014. But that will most certainly be for bus use. Their fuel cells for fork lifts cost $900 per kW now and are expected to drop to $500 by 2010. These prices are a good proxy price for the automotive cells which should be a little cheaper because they are larger. So in 2010 a 20 kW cell for cars could cost $10000 now far from the commercial target of $4000 for a car application. The plug-in enzymatic sugar fuel cell car will likely hit the market in 2017-2020.


I do not see anything that would make an SOFC all that much more expensive than a PEM. An SOFC runs at higher temperatures and thus needs high temperature seals, but it does not use precious metals like platinum and has no water management problems.

If a car could get by with 20kw of SOFC and 10 kw of batteries for load leveling, then there might be a design there. It would have to be light and streamlined, but that is where we want to go anyway.


SJC I thought exactly the same as you do. Why are SOFC all that much more expensive than a PEM? The reason is durability of the cells. The PEM for automotive use is designed to last 2300 hours for peak performance. A car that do 70mph can drive 16100 miles before the fuel cell need to be replaced and drives 5 times longer in a plug in comfiguration. The SOFC will last much, much longer it is designed to be used perhaps about 70% of the time for about 30 years compared to a cars 1,8% of peak time for 15 years (it is using a plug in configuration). In fact Ballards fuel cell for residential use Mark 1030 cost $45000 for a 1,32kW system which is on par with the cost of Acumentrics which comes in a complete set with boulers and controls included. That is why.


The durability is linked to the seals which is linked to thermal cycling. If you leave the SOFC running and do not thermally cycle it more than maybe 100 times in the total life of the stack, they are very reliable.

To that end, you could leave the SOFC running at maybe 10% of output and grid tie it with V2G and leave it running. If it is in a parking lot without V2G, you could use it to charge batteries.

High temperature seals are improving and the concept of thermal cycling may be redefined. If you turn the SOFC off, it is in a vacuum enclosure. So it goes from say, 1000C to maybe 900C in 24 hours. This is not a problem for restart and does not thermal cycle as deeply as a complete cool down.


The 1000C figure for SOFC operating temp seems excessive. Many run in the 600-800C range, and a few run as low as 550C.


Of course that is excessive, I wanted to see if you were paying attention. But to obsess about those details misses the main point entirely.

A 24 hour turn off cycle need not cool the stack much. That is the point and one that should be considered.

vicky jaiswal

i am waiting curiously for any suggetions for car running on bio gas

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