Rolls-Royce wants a ‘pioneering’ role in fuel cell applications
© Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce wants a ‘pioneering’ role in fuel cell applications

Rolls-Royce has today (June 10) confirmed that fuel cell systems will be an essential part of its sustainable solutions portfolio, with the company’s CEO wanting to assume a “pioneering role in fuel cell applications”.

Affirming such commitment, the British engineering giant has said it is currently setting up a 250kW demonstrator at its Friedrichshafen, Germany plant to test sustainable and climate-friendly power supply based on fuel cells.

“We firmly believe that fuel cell technology is set to make a huge contribution to a successful energy turnaround. That’s why Rolls-Royce sees it as its mission to assume a pioneering role in fuel cell applications,” said Andreas Schell, CEO of Rolls-Royce Power Systems.

“Fuel cells will form an elementary part of our product portfolio for sustainable solutions.”

Much has already happened at the Friedrichshafen plant in recent months, with the complex hydrogen infrastructure now installed and the container all set up, complete with its four low-temperature polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell modules.

Designed at the company’s plants in Ruhstorf, Bavaria, and Friedrichshafen, safety dictates that the container has two separate compartments for fuel cells and batteries, plus a host of power electronics.

The control system has now been fully refined, cooling and air conditioning are on the roof, and a rack system enables simple maintenance, allowing individual system modules to be replaced as required.

Using fuel cell modules from the automotive sector, the energy systems have been put through their paces on a test stand, and the Rolls-Royce engineers are more than happy with the results.

On the results, Dr. Peter Riegger, Vice President Rolls-Royce PowerLab, said, “Power flexing characteristics and performance are excellent, and as expected there are no vibrations or no loud noises.

“The next step is to connect all four demo modules together in the container and hook up the batteries and power circuit. Commissioning is slated for the second half of 2021.”

Rolls-Royce said the demonstrator will be used for test purposes and to show interested parties which applications the system is suitable for including standby power, prime power, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and ‘black start’ capability.

Exclusive: Fuel cells are not ‘fool cells’

© Ballard

For Nina Hjorth, Director of Strategy and Market Development at Ballard Power Systems, there’s one misconception around fuel cells that always stands out to her.

“Some specific individuals like to refer to fuel cells as ‘fool cells’ and keep arguing against the role of hydrogen and fuel cells in the future energy system,” she told H2 View. “To me, it’s not a matter of the one technology over the other; I say that both fuel cells and batteries are two complementary technologies, and both are needed to face our climate challenges and to decarbonise the transport industry.”

“I think that ‘either or’ perception is one of the biggest misconceptions around our technology. It’s a joint effort from several technologies to get us to the end game.”

Fuel cell technology is particularly exciting to Hjorth because of the role it can play in the future of the planet.

Read the full exclusive here.

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