Solvay has successfully commissioned its 1 MW industrial demonstration fuel cell at the SolVin plant in Lillo, Antwerp, Belgium.
With 1 MW of electric power output, delivered by 12 600 fuel cells, it is the largest of this type in the world. This proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell converts coproduced hydrogen (H2) in the plant into electricity and is now producing for weeks at a steady rate.
Solvay says the fuel cell has generated over 500MWh in about 800 hours of operation, which amounts to the electricity consumption of 1 370 families during the same time frame. The Belgian is claiming an electrical efficiency of 50%, with a total efficiency - including heat recuperation - of 80%, following two months of continuous operation. Solvay says availability is meeting high expectations, even in this early phase of operation, has been 99%.
The PEM fuel cell consists of a large number of membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) made out of Solvay’s specialty polymer Aquivion PFSA membrane and ionomer and Umicore’s Elyst catalyst. The MEAs were manufactured by SolviCore, a 50-50 joint venture of Solvay and Umicore, in its plant in Hanau, Germany. Dutch companies NedStack and MTSA have built the fuel cell using SolviCore’s assemblies.
Nedstack sees an enormous market for these systems, especially in India and China, where large quantities of the by-product hydrogen are available and the value of electricity is high because the power supply of these fast-growing economies cannot always keep up with demand.