## DOE Issues RFI for Fuel Cells For Combined Heating and Power and APU Applications; Reflective of New Direction for Hydrogen Program

##### 31 May 2009

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0000111) seeking input from stakeholders and the research community on proposed technical and cost targets for fuel cells designed for residential combined heating and power (CHP) and auxiliary power unit (APU) applications. This is a Request for Information and not a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA); therefore, DOE is not accepting applications and is instead providing an opportunity for stakeholders to submit feedback on targets for residential Combined Heat and Power and Auxiliary Power Unit applications.

The RFI reflects the steps being taken by the DOE’s Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and Infrastructure Technologies Program to rebalance its portfolio in alignment with the DOE’s new position of focusing on fuel cell applications for near-term impact, and less on the long-term development for application in transportation, said Dr. Sunita Satyapal, Acting Program Manager, during the recent Hydrogen and Vehicle Technology combined Merit Review meetings in Washington, DC.

Although the proposed 2010 budget for the DOE reduces funding for hydrogen fuel cell vehicle work (earlier post), the Recovery Act is providing a $42 million boost for nearer-term applications of fuel cells in other areas. We are rebalancing our portfolio, focusing on fuel cells rather than just hydrogen for long term transportation. We will be technology-neutral, and look at diverse fuels—not just hydrogen, but natural gas, biogas, and other fuels that are readily available and for diverse applications, that can have near-term impact. In addition, if you look at our program structure, we will focus on fuel cell system R&D. Again, this is technology neutral. This would include materials R&D as well as subsystems. It’s still R&D, so for example, we’re talking about reducing catalyst cost, improving membrane durability. Some of that R&D will still be applicable to long-term transportation, but will also be applicable and help jump start some of these other applications. —Dr. Satyapal, at the DOE Merit Review meetings The newly-posted RFI is one example of how the Hydrogen program will gather stakeholder input for the new program focus, Dr. Satyapal said. We’ve really been focused on transportation, and now we’re expanding. It’s a good opportunity to provide input. We will have targets that we’ll post, feedback on the relevance of recommendation, and the current status of technologies compared to future R&D. We’ll incorporate all that feedback as we look at redefining the portfolio and establishing and formalizing that portfolio. —Dr. Satyapal The RFI. The purpose of the RFI is to solicit feedback from stakeholders and the research community on DOE’s proposed performance, durability, and cost targets for CHP and APU fuel cell applications. High-temperature fuel cells, including (but not limited to) solid oxide fuel cells, are a key focus area of DOE’s R&D activities for stationary power generation because of their fuel flexibility, high efficiency, and potential for use in CHP applications. DOE anticipates that residential CHP fuel cells will use primarily natural gas fuel to provide electrical power, heating, and hot water. APUs for heavy duty vehicles/trucks also represent a potential early market opportunity for fuel cell deployment. DOE expects truck APU fuel cells to use primarily diesel fuel to power environmental controls and peripheral electrical devices. DOE is currently working to identify appropriate technical and cost targets for fuel cells for residential CHP and APU applications. The RFI includes preliminary targets developed with earlier stakeholder input, including a workshop in June 2008 at the Program’s Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation meeting. DOE says that responses to the RFI should address one or more of the following: • Relevance of the proposed targets • Probability that the proposed targets could be achieved as scheduled • Recommendations for testing conditions and protocols • Adequacy of target table footnotes and/or need for additional supporting information • Need for thermal cycling or on/off cycling durability targets • Apportionment of CHP energy between electrical and thermal energy • Recommendations for additional targets • Status of fuel cell technologies in comparison to targets and potential areas of R&D DOE Proposed performance, durability, and cost targets for fuel cell systems for residential CHP using natural gas Est. 2008 status201220152020 Power output 1-10 kW 1-10 kW 1-10 kW 1-10 kW Energy efficiency at rated power1 ~38% DC 42.5% DC 42.5% AC 47.5% AC CHP energy efficiency > 75% 80% 85% 90% Cost2 ~$750/kW $550/kW$500/kW $350/kW Transient response (10-90% rated power) < 1 min 20 s 5 s Start-up time from 20 °C ambient 720 min 240 min 60 min 30 min Average steady-state degradation < 2%/1000 h 1%/1000 h 0.5%/1000 h 0.25%/1000 h Transient power degradation < 1% 0.50% 0.25% 0.10% Operating lifetime ~5,900 h 16,650 h3 24,975 h 4 49,950 h5 System availability 97% 97.5% > 97.5% > 97.5% 1DC net/LHV or AC net/LHV. 2015 and 2020 targets include DC-AC conversion efficiencies. 2Factory cost defined at 50,000 unit production (250 MW in 5-kW modules). 3Approximate hours in 2 yrs of operation at 95% availability. 4Approximate hours in 3 yrs of operation at 95% availability. 5Approximate hours in 6 yrs of operation at 95% availability. DOE Proposed performance, durability, and cost targets for fuel cell systems for APUs using diesel fuel Est. 2008 status201220152020 Power output 1-10 kW 1-10 kW 1-10 kW 1-10 kW Energy efficiency at rated power1 ~16% DC 25% DC 30% DC 37.5% DC Power density 17 W/L 25 W/L 30 W/L 35 W/L Specific power 12 W/kg 15 W/kg 25 W/kg 35 W/kg Cost2 ~$750/kW $550/kW$450/kW $300/kW Transient response (10-90% rated power) < 1 min 20 s 5 s Start-up time from 20 °C ambient 720 min 90 min 45 min 10 min Average steady-state degradation 2.6%/1000 h 1.5%/1000 h 1%/1000 h 0.5%/1000 h Transient power degradation ~1% 0.75% 0.5% 0.25% Operating lifetime ~3,000 h 12,480 h3 18,720 h 4 31,200 h5 System availability 97% 97.5% > 97.5% > 97.5% 1DC net/LHV. 2Factory cost defined at 50,000 unit production (250 MW in 5-kW modules). 3Approximate hours in 2 yrs of operation at a weekly cycle of 5 days on and 2 days off. 4Approximate hours in 3 yrs of operation at a weekly cycle of 5 days on and 2 days off. 5Approximate hours in 5 yrs of operation at a weekly cycle of 5 days on and 2 days off. ### Comments This is something to look into. The request for comment is a good way to go before setting policy. If we can use natural gas in homes and buildings as well as advance distributed power production we will save lots of natural gas for use in cars, trucks and buses. Yes CHP saves fuel but the real savings will come when the people who have these units in their homes realize "making your own" doesn't have to be restricted to the fuel cell. When they start installing solar and wind power systems and only need to use gas to even out the power flow. I have long supported solar thermal to heat and cool homes and buildings as a way of using less natural gas. If a home is heated and cooled by the sun, you save enough natural gas to run a car. This goes right to the bottom line. There's already a 1kw residential CHP fuel cell that runs on NG. It will be launched in the UK in 2011. Microgeneration is a very good idea if done correctly. The leaders appear to be Ceres Power in the UK and Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd. CFCL has announced a product that at 1.5 kw has an electrical efficiency of 60%, and recovering the heat will boost overall efficiency to over 90%. This relieves load on the grid. In northern climates, pairing a micro-CHP with a geothermal heat pump makes a lot of sense. The waste heat from CFCL's system would in some cases make it possible to reduce the size of a geothermal heat pump. My house is an example of that. Following the Canadian Office of Energy Efficiency guidelines, my house should have a 36,000 btu/hr geothermal heat pump. Our local manufacturer, Econar, has 33,000, 43,000, and 54,000 btu/hr forced air geothermal heat pumps. Currently, I would have to choose between being a bit too small, 33,000 or too large, 43,000. With the waste heat from a 1 kw fuel cell, a 33,000 btu/hr geothermal heat pump could be installed, with the subsequent savings of$2500-\$3000 for installing the heat pump(mostly due to one less vertical borehole).

Wrong idea.

Simple measures like heat exchange ventilation, heat exchange water plumbing, solar water heating, or direct heating staff like heat exchange pumps (air-to-air in most of US will suffice) and district heating could virtually eliminate heating bills in winter and halve electricity consumption at summer. Saved NG, propane, heating oil and eventually electricity could be used to reduce crude oil import.

@Andrey
What you're saying also has merit. Larger systems gain in efficiency but we've already got enough large systems. We need a mix to get flexability into the equation.

Andrey Levin,
Amen! Keep saying it. It's the gift that keeps on giving: better insulation, more efficient appliances, etc. We don't need more electrical generation, we need to USE less.
Actually, we do need some more, for EV's. But we won't need to create as much if we are using less in our homes and offices.
This is the low hanging fruit. We should have a national program to insulate 500,000 homes a year. We could use Americore people.

70% of the homes in the U.S. have natural gas. CHP systems can use the natural gas more efficiently at the local level than utilities can at the central level. District heating is more popular in densely populated areas. It might work, but would have to be retrofitted at great cost after the fact. CHP systems just replace the furnace in homes when the old one wears out.

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