The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)— part of the US Department of Energy— is collaborating with vehicle OEM Toyota to demonstrate hydrogen fuel cells’ ability to deliver power in an integrated energy system.
Through a cooperative research and development agreement, the organisations will build, install, and evaluate a 1MW proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell system at NREL’s Flatirons Campus in the US.
The project will study the technology’s use for stationary power generation to understand what the system integration challenges are.
NREL researchers will push the operational boundaries of the PEM fuel cell system design to identify the performance limitations and degradation over time, generating real-world data that will aid development of future applications.
Research and development will also include assessing how the system performs when integrated with energy storage and renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
The 1MW fuel cell system integrates multiple Toyota fuel cell modules into a larger system to provide responsive power.
Designed as a drop-in replacement to a conventional generator, the system will use a Toyota developed integrated control system to manage operations of the fuel cell modules to maximise efficiency and system life.
Through a previous collaboration, NREL has demonstrated the use of an automotive fuel cell system to provide carbon-free power for a data center.
The three-year, $6.5 million project is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
Toyota is working with systems integrator Telios for design, balance of plant integration, and build of the system for delivery to NREL.
Demonstrating hydrogen systems at scale
The fuel cell generator is part of the Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems (ARIES) megawatt-scale hydrogen system being designed and commissioned at NREL’s Flatirons Campus.
Key components of the ARIES hydrogen system include a 1.25MW PEM electrolyzer for hydrogen production, hydrogen compression to 3,000 psi, 600kg of hydrogen storage, and a 1MW PEM fuel cell for power generation.
The fuel cell generator system will be installed this summer, and the full system is due to be commissioned later this year.