Wärtsilä fuel cell prototype starts operation

Above and below, the Wärtsilä WFC20 alpha-prototype fuel cell

(ESPOO, FINLAND — October 24, 2007) The Wärtsilä Fuel Cell Program has reached a significant milestone in its development of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology. Yesterday, the first Wärtsilä WFC20 fuel cell, a 20 kWe alpha-prototype, was warmed up for the first time at the Wärtsilä Fuel Cell Laboratory in Espoo, Finland.

The unit will start generating electricity after it has reached its operating temperature of 750ºC. Wärtsilä has been developing fuel cell technology for decentralized power generation and marine applications since the year 2000.
The prototype is finally ready for operation after testing and verification over the past year of its various subsystems, such as the fuel reformer, automation, and control systems. The development program has reached the stage where stacks are installed, a design in which fuel cells are combined to yield higher voltage or stronger current. The cell and stack technology used in the unit is based on the planar SOFC technology developed by Wärtsilä’s long-term collaboration partner, Topsøe Fuel Cell A/S, a leading SOFC technology company.

The unit will be operated at the laboratory in Espoo, and will provide electricity and heat to the power and heat grids respectively. The WFC20 alpha-prototype is the first SOFC power unit ever built in Finland and globally one of the first units based on planar SOFC technology in the given power range.
The WFC20 alpha-prototype uses natural gas as fuel. Wärtsilä believes fuel cells are clean, efficient and reliable methods of producing electricity, and can be used in applications ranging from small portable power units to medium-sized industrial applications.
By Professional Mariner Staff