Energy Efficiency

3kW Solid-Oxide Fuel Cell for Institutional Cogeneration

Kyocera Corporation today announced the launch of the industry’s first 3-kilowatt solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) cogeneration system for institutional applications. The system, which is available from this month in Japan, utilizes Kyocera’s proprietary ceramic technologies to deliver 52% generation efficiency — the highest of any comparable SOFC system currently on the market — and an overall efficiency of 90% with exhaust heat recovery.

The new system integrates Kyocera’s cell stacks delivering proven technology with a successful track record of mass-production for the residential market. In addition to effectively generating energy by using these cell stacks, the system design enables the use of exhaust heat from the power generation process to heat water. These characteristics make the system well-suited for retail establishments and other commercial enterprises, including small restaurants.

Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has set a residential-use fuel cell target of 1.4 million units by 2020, and 5.3 million units by 2030, as part of its vision for a hydrogen-based society. METI has supported the research and development of industrial-use SOFC systems with the goal of commercial availability during 2017.

The fuel cell system produces electricity and heat (hot water) by extracting hydrogen from utility-supplied gas or liquid petroleum (LP) gas and triggering reactions with oxygen in the air. Previous SOFC systems have also utilized ceramics as the electrolyte to recycle exhaust heat and achieve higher power generation efficiency but there has been a longstanding challenge with durability until Kyocera's cell stacks.

Kyocera began developing proprietary ceramic technologies for SOFC applications in 1985. In 2011, the company began mass production of world-leading cell stacks*5 for the residential-use "ENE-FARM type S." A more efficient and compact cell stack launched in April 2016 serves as the foundation of the new 3kW SOFC system.

As a form of distributed power generation, SOFCs offer great potential to reduce energy losses associated with power transmission. Furthermore, the exhaust heat from power generating processes is effectively used for other purposes including heating water. The SOFC system offers substantial energy savings and lower CO2 emissions than conventional cogeneration systems using internal-combustion engines or gas turbines.

The new SOFC system achieves a 3kW power rating by incorporating four of Kyocera's small and highly efficient 700W cell stacks, which have a proven track record in ENE-FARM type S residential SOFC systems sold in Japan. By utilizing exhaust heat from power generation, the new system achieves the industry's highest power generation efficiency at 52%, and total energy efficiency of 90% with exhaust heat recovery.

The system is capable of adjusting power generation in proportion to demand. In addition to providing a steady 3kW of power, the system can be used as a demand-regulated power supply.

Kyocera International Inc.
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