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Solvay commissions 1 MW PEM fuel cell at SolVin’s Antwerp plant

Solvay has successfully commissioned its 1 MegaWatt (MW) industrial demonstration Fuel Cell at the SolVin plant in Lillo, Antwerp, Belgium. This Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) Fuel Cell converts co-produced hydrogen in the plant into electricity and is now producing for weeks at a steady rate. The Fuel Cell has generated more than 500 MWh in about 800 hours of operation, which amounts to the electricity consumption of 1,370 families during the same time frame.

This successful industrial scale-up project features Solvay’s specialty polymers and SolviCore’s membrane electrode assemblies; the fuel cell also increases SolVin’s brine electrolysis’ energy efficiency.

The PEM Fuel Cell consists of a large number of membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) made out of Solvay’s specialty polymer Aquivion PFSA membrane and ionomer and Umicore’s elyst catalyst. The MEAs were manufactured by SolviCore, a 50-50 joint venture of Solvay and Umicore, in its plant in Hanau, Germany. Dutch companies NedStack and MTSA have built the fuel cell using SolviCore’s assemblies.

The technology was realized in cooperation with WaterstofNet, the coordinator of the Project Hydrogen Region Flanders-South Netherlands. This project aims at developing know-how and projects about hydrogen applications in the region with a clear focus on sustainable hydrogen and early market applications, such as maritime, logistical and interurban applications, with maximum use of European technology.

The Project Hydrogen Region, with a total budget of €14 million (US$18 million), was approved by the Interreg IV Program and is financed by the EU, the Flemish government, the Dutch government and the industry. Hydrogen Region financed Solvay’s project budget of more than €5 million (US$6.6 million) by €1.5 million (US$2 million). The 1 MW PEM Fuel Cell is the first milestone in the Project Hydrogen Region Flanders - South Netherlands and it is also used by WaterstofNet for research and test programs to endorse implementation of Fuel Cell technology in the region.

SolVin is a joint venture of Solvay (75%) and BASF (25%). It is a leader on the Vinyls (PVC) market in Europe and on the PVDC market worldwide.

Solvay is an international chemical group; its recent acquisition of specialty chemicals company Rhodia created a much larger player, which is realizing more than 90% of its sales in markets where it is among the top 3 global leaders.



Will the economics work out?


Santa Clara, California municipal power had a 3 MW SOFC more than 20 years ago. It worked out, but was a bit ahead of the state of the art for longevity.

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