Wärtsilä fuel cell prototype starts operation

Wärtsilä Corporation, Trade press release 24 October 2007 at 10:00 UTC+2

The Wärtsilä Fuel Cell Programme yesterday reached a significant milestone in its development of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology. The first Wärtsilä WFC20 fuel cell, a 20 kWe alpha-prototype, was warmed up for the first time in the Wärtsilä Fuel Cell Laboratory in Espoo, Finland. A small starting ceremony was held to celebrate this event which is seen as a concrete advance in the development of Wärtsilä fuel cell systems. After the unit has reached its operating temperature of 750ºC it will start generating electricity.

During the past year that the WFC20 unit has been manufactured, various subsystems such as fuel reformer, automation and control systems have been tested and verified. Now the Wärtsilä fuel cell development programme has finally reached this important milestone where stacks are installed and the first prototype is ready for operation. The unit will be operated at the Wärtsilä Fuel Cell Laboratory in Espoo, and will provide electricity and heat to the power and heat grids respectively. The WFC20 alpha-prototype developed by Wärtsilä is the first SOFC power unit ever build in Finland and globally one of the first units based on planar SOFC technology in the given power range.

Wärtsilä has been developing fuel cell technology for decentralized power generation and marine applications since the year 2000. In 2004, Wärtsilä started the operation of a 5 kW SOFC test system which provided results as a reference point for the WFC20 alpha-prototype. The WFC20 alpha-prototype is an integrated power unit that uses natural gas as fuel. 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 (TOFC). TOFC is a fully-owned subsidiary of Haldor Topsøe A/S and one of the leading SOFC technology companies fully dedicated to development, manufacturing and marketing of solid oxide fuel cell technology.

For reaching this important milestone Wärtsilä fuel cell development team acknowledges its closest development partners Topsøe Fuel Cell A/S and Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT).

Notes to the editor:

Wärtsilä’s fuel cell technology

Wärtsilä’s existing SOFC system is based on the use of natural gas, biogas or methanol.

A fuel cell is a clean, efficient and reliable method of producing electricity, making it a highly attractive option for commercial power production. Wärtsilä is committed to supplying its customers with efficient and environmentally sustainable power generation solutions. Developing the energy generation technologies of the future, such as fuel cells, is a key element in Wärtsilä’s strategy for sustainable development.

Wärtsilä believes that fuel cell technology is one of the most promising energy technologies of the future because of its substantial benefits in energy production, including its cleanness and high efficiency. Since fuel cells are suitable over a wide range of different sizes, they can be used in many different applications, ranging from small portable power units through to medium-sized industrial applications.

Further information:
Erkko Fontell, General Manager, Fuel Cells, tel. +358 10 709 5228,
e-mail: erkko.fontell@wartsila.com

Wärtsilä in brief:

Wärtsilä enhances the business of its customers by providing them with complete lifecycle power solutions. When creating better and environmentally compatible technologies, Wärtsilä focuses on the marine and energy markets with products and solutions as well as services. Through innovative products and services, Wärtsilä sets out to be the most valued business partner of all its customers. This is achieved by the dedication of more than 15,000 professionals manning 130 Wärtsilä locations in close to 70 countries around the world.