Fuel Cell Technologies installs first residential SOFC system for testing
KINGSTON, ONT-Fuel Cell Technologies (FCT) reports that it has installed its first solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) residential system in Canada. The five-kilowatt SOFC system will run on natural gas and uses tubular solid oxide technology developed by Siemens Westinghouse. The residential trial of FCT's SOFC system in a house at the Canadian Centre for Housing Technology (CCHT) in Ottawa is part of a $260,000 joint project with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). NRCan has contributed $155,000 to the demonstration project, with support from electric and natural gas utilities, manufacturers, research agencies and other government departments. The second-generation system features important improvements from earlier installations including: gas-powered heat-up to allow the unit to be started without an additional electrical power source; the ability to use low fuel pressures; and the elimination of the purge gas, an expensive gas mixture which was required to protect the cell stacks during system startup and shutdown. In addition, the inverter, which converts the fuel-cell energy into the AC power used by most household appliances, was redesigned to satisfy residential standards. The system also features improved control of the output power and seamless transfer between grid-dependent and grid-independent modes without operator supervision. CCHT researchers will examine the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning interface, the control strategies and the grid connection to allow easier integration of fuel cells into the house's energy systems.