Blue World Technologies starts series production of methanol fuel cells
22 December 2022
Blue World Technologies has started the series production of its methanol fuel cells, marked with the official inauguration of the 8,500 m2 Blue Aalborg Factory. The fuel cell factory, which initially has an annual production capacity of 250,000 individual fuel cells, is located in an industrial area at the Port of Aalborg in Denmark.
The production capacity corresponds to a total output of 15 megawatts, which is expected to be expanded to 50 megawatts in the next few years. Over time, the production capacity can be expanded to 500 MW on the existing site.
The fuel cells of the company will primarily be used for stationary power generation and within the maritime sector and are a climate-friendly alternative to conventional fossil-based combustion engines.
The high electrical efficiency of the fuel cell systems will enable efficient use of e-fuels, such as methanol, that through power-to-x can be manufactured as a renewable fuel ensuring a net-zero operation.
Besides the production of the core fuel cell components—membrane, electrode, and separator plates—the factory holds the assembly of the MEA (membrane electrode assembly), fuel cell stack, and methanol-reformer as well as system assembly of fuel cell systems for stationary power generation.
Throughout the development and establishment of the factory, the focus has been on lowering production costs and time while ensuring high-quality components. An example of this is the separator plates, where the company has succeeded in reducing the production time of the plates by ten times with a potential for further reduction in cost and time.
The fuel cells are based on high-temperature (HT) PEM technology (operating at 160-180°C) that has a high resistance to impurities—i.e., no gas purification is needed on the reformat gas.
Unique for the HT PEM fuel cells is the potential for waste heat utilisation where part of the waste heat from the fuel cell is used to drive the process of reforming methanol and thereby optimising the total system efficiency. Waste heat can also be used for additional energy recovery.
The fuel cells have a high electrical efficiency of 40 to 60% depending on the market and specific application.
When powered by renewable methanol, the methanol fuel cells have a net-zero operation and with no NOx, SOx, or particle emissions, the fuel cells do not cause any air pollution.
Blue World’s targeted markets are within stationary applications and the maritime sector. For the stationary market, the company is making a diesel genset replacement in the size 5 to 15 kW. For the maritime market, the company is developing a high-power methanol fuel cell-based APU (auxiliary power unit).
Furthermore, Blue World will also be supplying fuel cell stacks through corporate partnerships for system integrations into various applications. The company is supported by a strong investor base which includes the Bill Gates-founded Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the German engine manufacturer DEUTZ AG, and the Sovereign Investment Fund of Denmark, Vaekstfonden. Currently, the Blue World team counts approx. 120 employees, and the number of employees is expected to be doubled in the next few years.
I don't get why these are called "methanol fuel cell" if a methanol reformer is required...
Aren't them hydrogen fuel cells?
Posted by: peskanov | 22 December 2022 at 02:21 PM
In an otherwise good article, I find the phrase below disruptive:
"reducing the production time of the plates by ten times with a potential for further reduction in cost and time."
"Times" is a multiplier. You can reduce something by 90%. You can't, technically, reduce something by ten times.
Posted by: PaulRobbinsATX | 22 December 2022 at 03:40 PM
Good question, to which I think the clue lies here:
' The fuel cells are based on high-temperature (HT) PEM technology (operating at 160-180°C) that has a high resistance to impurities—i.e., no gas purification is needed on the reformat gas.
Unique for the HT PEM fuel cells is the potential for waste heat utilisation where part of the waste heat from the fuel cell is used to drive the process of reforming methanol and thereby optimising the total system efficiency. Waste heat can also be used for additional energy recovery. '
Basically the problem with methanol fuel cells, stroke reforming methane to get hydrogen to stick in a 'normal' fuel cell, is purification, as well as energy consumption.
If you just stuck on any old fuel cell, attached to a random reformer, the fuel cell is not going to last long, and will rapidly clog, as well as having poor efficiency.
The system has to be an integrated design.
It will be interesting to compare this to home fuel cells, where there are hundreds of thousands in operation, both PEM and SOFC reforming methane on the spot.
Take my words with a large pinch of salt, as I am very far from an expert, but that is my understanding of the present state of play, and why this can reasonably be called a methanol fuel cell rather than a regular fuel cell with a reformer bolted on.
Posted by: Davemart | 23 December 2022 at 03:19 AM
Looks like a good use for Maritime APU, particularly since Green Methanol has good potential as a future fuel in Maritime Shipping.
Posted by: Gryf | 23 December 2022 at 09:07 AM
Imagine a “Green Submarine”.
The Type 212 uses MTU engines.
Posted by: Gryf | 23 December 2022 at 09:19 AM
Did not mean to exclude “Nuclear Submarines” as “Green” (all classes of submarines in the US Navy are Nuclear). Of course, they are significantly more expensive and most use High-Enriched Uranium.
Posted by: Gryf | 23 December 2022 at 12:31 PM