Blue World Technologies’ complete system includes a methanol reformer for fuel conversion, DC/DC for power conversion and fuel cell stack for power production. The fuel cell control unit governs the fuel cell system as well as communicates with the vehicle. The methanol fuel cell system is based on High-Temperature PEM technology and methanol to hydrogen reforming.
The high-temperature (HT) PEM technology operates at 160-180 °C and has a high resistance to impurities in reformat gas—making it suitable to combine with fuel reformers. The combination can be done without the implementation of expensive and cumbersome clean-up technologies which enables a simple and cost-effective system design.
The HT PEM-technology is characterized by simple heat management and a minimum balance of plant components which in turn reduces the parasitic losses to run the system. The simple system design enables a high total system power density although the stack power density is lower than generic stack designs.
Methanol reforming is a relatively simple process that converts a mix of methanol and water into a hydrogen-rich gas. Before the reforming can take place the fuel needs to go from liquid to gas form by evaporation, a process that requires energy. In a generic system that would mean using primary fuel, leading to lower efficiency. In the combination with HT PEM the waste heat is of sufficient temperature to drive this process, meaning an energy-free process which leads to a superior overall efficiency.
The fundamental chemical process, which takes place in the reformer is:
In the two years since its founding in October 2018, the company has concentrated on optimizing the production processes working towards the goal of commercializing the methanol fuel cell technology through large-scale production.
Methanol fuel cell production
In September 2019, the construction of production facilities for Blue World Technologies was paused due to construction difficulties just a few weeks before the construction was planned to begin. That resulted in a plan B; Blue World Technologies adapted and continued the path of developing new production methods and optimizing processes. Now the company is starting a limited methanol fuel cell production.
One of the most crucial elements we have been working on these past two years is bringing down the production time and costs of the fuel cell components. We have now reached a point which enables us to move one step closer towards commercializing the technology to be able to compete with conventional technologies.—Anders Korsgaard, CEO and Co-founder of Blue World Technologies
Methanol fuel cell stack assembly
The experience gained from the limited production will be used in the continued optimization of production methods and processes as the company will move onto serial production of 2,000 to 5,000 units. Blue World Technologies expects to continue upscaling the production with an aim to reach a full-scale commercial production capacity of 50,000 fuel cell units within three years.
There is an increased focus on Power-to-X and there is a big market demand for alternative technologies providing CO2 reduction, which we also see in both our current order books but also in the initiated dialogues we have with potential customers. Starting this initial production now allows us to progress with development and trial projects with customers.—Mads Friis Jensen, CCO and Co-founder of Blue World Technologies
Blue World Technologies methanol fuel cell stack
The methanol fuel cell technology has potential in several markets such as maritime, heavy-duty, stationary, and passenger vehicles. Blue World Technologies has a partner approach to leverage the potential of these markets fully. As a green and clean alternative to combustion engines and diesel generators the methanol fuel cell technology provides multiple benefits such as cost-savings, CO2 reduction—or even a CO2-neutral operation when running on green methanol—as well as zero harmful emissions.
The fuel cells run on methanol which is an easy-to-use e-fuel as it is liquid at atmospheric pressure making refueling convenient and makes it possible to integrate and reuse in the world’s existing infrastructure.
Methanol can be produced from green sources and is CO2-neutral in a well-to-wheel perspective in that scenario. Therefore, it could be a solid alternative to fossil fuel and could contribute to the green transition in multiple industries around the world.