Researchers Map Layers of Lava Flows Beneath North Atlantic; New Technique to Further Oil Exploration
DOE Awarded $18.3M to Nuclear Industry Consortia for GNEP Studies

Report: Toto’s Home-Use Solid Oxide Ceramic Fuel Cell To Be 1/3 Price Of Others

The Nikkei reports that major sanitary ceramics manufacturer Toto Ltd. has developed a home-use solid oxide fuel cell that will sell for about ¥1 million (US$10,000) per kW output—less than a third the cost of other models from companies such as Toshiba, Matsushita and Ebara.

The firm applied its production technologies to manufacture a solid oxide fuel cell that uses heat-resistant ceramic materials. Materials costs for the device are low because it does not use expensive catalysts such as platinum. In addition, Toto found a low-cost way to mass-produce the cells.

After starting trials soon, the firm hopes to put a product that generates power and heats water on the market in fiscal 2011. Before selling household models, it plans to provide 75- and 200-watt versions to US power generation equipment manufacturers starting as early as April.



Has anyone here calculated how much electricity would be created if all of the homes that are currently using NG for heating used a SOFC for co-generation? Not only would we get much higher usage efficiency, but we'd also cut down on electrical transmission losses.

Roger Pham

Great. NG can be used as fuel directly, and the heat produced can be used for home heating, cooking (via heat exchanger fluids) boiling water, or for hot water heater.


"US$10,000 per kW output"
Dream on! The market for this is somewhere over the rainbow.



NG is in short supply in north america, 2nd it requires much more energy to transport NG than electricity, 7% of electricity is lost in the transmission, count about 15% of the energy contained in the NG to push it through the pipe. So this product is useless at home

Mad Max

If you use NG to produce electricity the maximum state-ot-the-art efficiency is 60%. Micro CHP by SOFC would easily go above 90%. The difference then more than offsets the energy needed to transport NG.


The Japanese have been working on CHP units in homes for quite some time now. If they could not power these cost effectively using NG, I doubt that they would even invest in the development. You have to look at their price for NG and electricity. The U.S. has had very affordable energy for quite a while, but that may not be the case in the future.

70% of the homes in the U.S. use natural gas for heating. If these SOFCs are 40% efficient, then the other 60% of the energy can be used to heat the space in the homes and provide hot water. I prefer solar thermal for space heating and hot water. I would rather use the high octane NG in cars, but that is just me.

Honda has a hydrogen generator for their fuel cell cars that goes in the garage and doubles as a CHP unit by reforming NG. Since Japan imports most of their NG, I am assuming that they want to use it as efficiently as possible. Now that the NG companies in the U.S. are talking about expensive LNG tankers and terminals, we may be inclined to use our NG more wisely as well.

Mike Z.

Except of course that the US population is continuing to migrate from cold areas of the country to warm areas--so over time the usefulness of home heating technology will diminish.


Mad_Max: you write
"If you use NG to produce electricity the maximum state-ot-the-art efficiency is 60%. Micro CHP by SOFC would easily go above 90%. The difference then more than offsets the energy needed to transport NG."

I suspect I have missed your point. Question: why wouldn't the electric utilities just start to generate using SOFC? Wouldn't that let them regain (or retain) their advantage over home units?


WAY TOO EXPENSIVE! Spend the money on various solar and get way more bang for the buck and no GHG!

After the solar investment, maybe this would be helpful during winter.


$10,000 per kW is an order or magnitude above the numbers being discussed in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) program. Here is SECA May 16 , 2007 press release on Phase I completion.

"Projected system costs ranging from $724 to $775 per kilowatt, which eclipsed the DOE intermediate target for an annual production of 250 megawatts and positions the teams to meet the 2010 target of $400 per kilowatt target."


I have seen cost projections for SOFCs in the $200 per kw range. Even at 5 times mark up that would be $1000 per kw retail. There have been utility scale FC projects. Santa Clara had a 2 mw MCFC project that ran for a few years about 15 years ago. They did it just to see the long term viability of it and then discontinued the program.

You could runs banks of large SOFC/turbines and use combined cycle steam turbines after the gas turbines and get some pretty impressive figures. Santa Clara is a municipal utility and had a CHP contract with a local facility that wanted the remaining heat for buildings. Nice idea that may have been a bit ahead of its time.

Healthy Breaze

@ Mad_Max;

I don't think any shipping SOFC is running at 90% efficiency. I have a friend whose company has just released a new model that struggles to hit 40% when you factor in all the forms of energy inputs required.

Mad Max

Mike and sic:

I mean >90% efficiency considering both electricity and heat production; I assume (conservatively) that some energy would be lost anyway.

If utilities want to pass to SOFC they would have to build a district heating network to be able to sell heat as well as electricity. If they do not, it is likely that they will rather use CCGT power plants, which are quite efficient already +/- 60% and much less expensive to build.


If you use NG to produce electricity the maximum state-ot-the-art efficiency is 60%. Micro CHP by SOFC would easily go above 90%.

MadMax, micro CHP can achieve 90% with a $100/kW NG generator. A $10,000/kW SOFC is a joke.

Overall Efficiency > 90% ( ~25% elec.~65% thermal
This is for a mechanical NG driven generator.
40,000 hr between overhauls, what it the expected life on a SOFC?

The FC looks like it would generate more electricity but even this unit would generate 3x the electricity I use.

Give me something like this
and it would provide cooling in the summer too.


It depends on the electricity prices. An ICE CHP might be 20% electric and 70% heat. If the electricity rates are very high, an SOFC at 40% electric and 50% heat might be a better deal, but not at $10k.

SOFC life spans are pretty good if you keep them running. They do not like thermal cycling. The high temperature gas seals between the planar cells has a shorter life when cycled more than 100 times or so.

That is not a problem, if you can keep them running at 10% output all the time and ramp things up when you need it. Hot water is a good application for that reduced power mode year around.

Mad Max

In fact it says 4.000, not 40.000 hours beteween major overhauls...


1 The maintenace of a fc is simple... pull cell plug in new cell... and can be done when you want and be schedualed waay in advance.

2 The fc makes no boise and makes more electricity.

3 The fc is only spendy right now as costs continue to lower and volumes climb the real costs of fc are rather LOW eight now we are realy seeing the cost of the company not the cells.

5 if your gizmo needs 350 watts and you use a 1 kw conventional unit it will still break down rather often.. whereas a fc will run for MANY times its rated life and still provide 350 watts.
6 a dc can be most any shape and thus fit where others can not.. under a seat in a console behind the fridge under the sink in a wall or in the freaking yoilet.


The costs and prices of planar SOFCs will come down. They make the cell ceramic like wafers. It lends itself to mass production and uses no expensive catalysts.

They will probably solve the sealing problems about the same time that they bring the operating temperature down a bit. The glass seals do not like to be heated and cooled many times.


As a good comparison you should have a look at CFU (Ceramic Fuel Cells) listed ASX and London AIM. Starting production within 12 months after lengthy trials and currently producing 2 KW complete mchp (inclusive of balance of plant/boiler) inside of 5000Euro for established market in Europe, partners in place, Japan also partnered.


Ceramic Fuel Cell are two years ahead of anyone in the world

The comments to this entry are closed.