Submission by Rolls-Royce Fuel Cells Systems
1.1 RRFCS, a majority owned subsidiary of
Rolls-Royce plc, is engaged in the commercial development of Solid
Oxide Fuel Cells for use primarily in localised power distribution.
Based in Loughborough, RRFCS has locations overseas in the US
and Singapore. The Company currently employs 108 people in the
UK of whom 75% are graduates and 30% have PhDs.
1.2 The practical application of solid oxide
fuel cells is at an early stage but the advanced engineering work
at RRFCS has identified how the technology can be taken forward
in the future.
1.3 The intellectual property of RRFCS resides
in the UK and the USA and the Company undertakes significant research
activity overseas with around 25% undertaken in UK universities.
1.4 The early products will serve the Distributed
Generation market with high efficiency low emission products with
a cost of electricity approximately equivalent to the incumbent
In 2002 Rolls-Royce plc made the decision to
commercialise 10 years of strategic research work into Solid Oxide
Fuel Cells and established a unit to undertake this task. To improve
access to mass ceramic manufacturing skills and to off set some
of the cost of fuel cell development, Rolls-Royce plc sold 25%
of the equity to a Singaporean consortium, "EnerTek",
in 2005. All Rolls-Royce plc's Fuel cell related Intellectual
Property was transferred to this majority owned subsidiary.
RRFCS's Headquarters is located in Loughborough
close to the University and it is in this location that cell development
and systems integration is undertaken. The major test facilities
are located in Derby, which is the site of Rolls-Royce plc's civil
aero-engine operation. There are also subsidiaries in the USA,
which undertake fuel processing and in Singapore, for research
and automated mass manufacturing technology of ceramic components.
Singapore will also host the first manufacturing facility.
The Company currently employs about 108 people
in the UK, of whom around 75% are graduates including 14 from
overseas. Of the Graduate population around 30% have PhD's. There
are also 22 trainees, and 23 temporary employees in the UK. A
further 50 people are directly employed in the US and Singapore.
5. PRODUCT FOCUS
5.1 The RRFCS initial focus is the sale
in 2010 of 1MW pressurised Fuel Cell Systems with high efficiency,
negligible emissions of nitrogen and sulphur oxides and particulates.
Performance at part load and in high temperature will be superior
to heat engines.
5.2 The total system will be city centre
friendly with an excellent safety case, no requirement for stored
gases or unacceptable noise or vibration.
5.3 The target cost of electricity is no
higher than current products serving the distributed generation
5.4 With long term development, efficiencies
of 70% are possible before waste heat recovery.
6. SYSTEM ARCHITECTURE
6.1 A number of technical disciplines are
needed to achieve the performance objectives, these are built
in five subsystems. Not all the skills needed are available to
RRFCS in the UK.
6.2 Natural gas is not pure methane and
requires processing before it can be used by the fuel cell stack
and the stack is sensitive to the fuel conditions during start
up and shut down. This technology is being developed in the RRFCS
unit in the USA.
6.3 The fuel cell stack has to be enclosed
on the right environment requiring aero thermal. The stack and
aero thermal management are the central activities of the Loughborough
6.4 A specialised small micro turbine (equivalent
to20kW) is required. The Rolls-Royce plc unit in Indianapolis
is developing the unit.
6.5 Fuel cells deliver direct current and
power electronics are required to connect to the alternating current
system of the grid. The development of this sub-sytem is done
by M Technologies in the USA partly because of familiarity with
USA codes and standards.
6.6 There are therefore five subsystems
requiring safe control. The UK branch of Data Systems and Solutions
(a Rolls-Royce subsidiary) are carrying out this task.
7.1 Important test facilities have been
established in Derby including 30 rigs operating at atmospheric
pressure and three presurised rigs. There is one Test Bed capable
of testing all subsystems together at 250kW. With DTI assistance
a further three 15kW pressurised rigs are being built for endurance
testing of fuel cell stack.
7.2 Customer verification is planned initially
in the USA with American Electric Power at their test site near
Columbus Ohio. Up to three 1MW units are planned for testing in
a controlled customer environment during 2008 and 2009.
8. ACADEMIC PARTNERS
8.1 RRFCS activity involves significant
research activity and as a result the company has an extensive
partnership with a number of UK and overseas universities. These
include in the UK:
characterisation, development of ceramic nanomaterials and product
lifecycle / recycling strategy.
and development of cathode and current collector/interconnect
St. Andrews Universitydevelopment
of next generation anode and current collector materials.
of advanced laser-based instrumentation methods.
A number of smaller activities with
the Universities of Cambridge, Surrey, and Birmingham.
The University of Genoasystem
modelling and experimentation; and
The A*Star Institutes in Singapore.
8.2 Imperial College, Strathclyde University
and St. Andrews University are partners in the programme supported
by the DTI.
8.3 RRFCS directly funds £1.0 million
of research work in Universities and technical institutes of which
£0.25 million is undertaken in the UK.
9.1 RRFCS draws on the expertise and capability
of a range of UK businesses to support the programme; for example
GEM, ESL and MEL supply active materials and inks; Metalcraft
and PreciSpark are active in metal components, whilst RiskTec
and a number of small consultancies provide specialist advice.
9.2 Bosal is responsible for the manufacture
of the internal reformers, where the requirements as similar to
automotive catalytic converter designs. Bosal also provide insulation
9.3 Inmatec in Germany manufactures the
ceramic substrate on which the Cells are printed. RRFCS is also
currently seeking a full production supply chain partner.
The RRFCS US facility is located in Canton,
Ohio where R&D activities in fuel processing and fuel cells
is performed with financial assistance from the Dept. of Energy
and the State of Ohio. M. Technologies in Massachusetts are also
engaged in developing the Firmware and Software for the power
Construction of the first manufacturing facility
will commence in 2008 for the production of stack and tiers.
12. CARBON FOOTPRINT
12.1 The Carbon Footprint of the RRFCS technology
is dependent on a number of variables including fuel, how it is
used, the ambient conditions at which comparisons are made and
the output streams. The carbon capture from fuels generally depends
on having a viable infrastructure for sequestration, use in enclosed
crop production, or carbon recycling.
12.2 Fuel Cells have a practical advantage
over central power stations running on bio-fuels, as they can
be co-located with the fuel source avoiding a substantial portion
of the transport issues associated with bringing the fuel to the
point of use.
12.3 The need for reduced Carbon emissions
will be driven by economic necessity. Regulations framed to achieve
improved performance will be aimed at minimising the overall economic
impact. Bio-fuels are particularly difficult to evaluate because
of their variability, harvesting, processing and transportation
costs. To give the Committee a sense of the potential if necessity
drove the regulations regardless of the first cost and operating
cost then it is possible to envisage that SOFC hybrids working
on bio-fuels produced from food production waste could be carbon
reducing after carbon capture.
12.4 The following table give some comparisons
of Carbon Foot print.
NG = Natural Gas
CCGT = Combined Cycle Gas Turbine
SOFC = Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (the technology
use by RRFCS.
hybrid = Pressurisation by Micro-turbine
Coal IG-CCGT = Coal Integrated Gasification-
Combined Cycle Gas Turbine
Well to wire CO2 emissions for
conventional generation and SOFC hybrids compared. The more direct
approach used for CO2 capture in the SOFC hybrid results
in almost complete capture
CO2 emission footprints for a range of approaches
to providing end domestic energy users with both power and heat
13. FUTURE DEVELOPMENT
Advanced engineering work at RRFCS has identified
how the technology can be taken forward in the future.
13.1 Power Density
The current design that is expected to enter
revenue service in 2010 has a power density close to 400W per
litre of stack. This power density can potentially be developed
to give approx 3,000W per litre of stack. This will require research
into the fundamentals of the science of thin layers operating
at high temperatures and the movement of gases within them over
extended periods of time. Power density will bring the added benefit
of lower first cost and operating costs.
The gas output from the cells is sufficiently
clean for the production of water either for human consumption
with limited additional treatment or directly for irrigation or
other "grey" water uses. Unlike the output from a heat
engine useful quantities can be produced at high ambient temperatures.
Six tonnes per 1MW of power output per day at 40°C can be
achieved. Water will be a valuable additional output for areas
that are short of fresh water.
13.3 Fuel Flexibility
The challenge for the future is likely to be
met by a variety of fuels especially if bio-fuels are a greater
part of the mix in the future. The fuel process technology built
into the first product is capable of development over a broad
range of potential fuels.
13.3.1 Differing climatic and soil conditions
will create a wide variety of bio-fuel possibilities and the key
to efficient exploitation will be the ability to generate power
locally from locally available fuels. This will reduce fuel transportation
13.3.2 Highly efficient generation by water
generative units close to the point of use will be essential to
balancing land use between energy creation and food production.
Fuel Cells being a chemical device are an example
of a reversible process. Concepts exist for applying the technology
to the production of high purity hydrogen from available fuels
close to the point of use (eg a hydrogen filling station). The
energy density of hydrogen is low unless the technical and safety
challenges of extremely high pressure storage are solved. A practical
solution for industry and transport could be to distribute carbon
based fuels and generate hydrogen where it is required.
13.5 Carbon Capture
In the chart covering the carbon footprint the
benefits of carbon capture can be seen. Well designed Fuel Cell
systems can be adapted to capture a very high percentage of the
carbon in the fuel for a modest reduction in efficiency.
The fundamental difference between a fuel cell
system and heat engine is that the carbon dioxide is created in
the fuel circuit and therefore not in air. There are economic
penalties in the form of increased capital cost, operating cost
and loss of efficiency that need careful benefit analysis before
regulations are drafted to require carbon capture, but studies
exist that suggest the penalties are smaller for Fuel cells than
for other technologies.
13.6 Carbon Recycling
Carbon Capture brings with it the cost and inefficiencies
of carbon sequestration at least where this does not contribute
to enhanced oil extraction. RRFCS has developed concepts for using
captured carbon and recycling it into hydrocarbon fuels for ease
of transportation. One use could be to create liquid fuels for
aviation from biomass.
13.7 New materials
All of the above can be enhanced by the development
of advanced materials for the use in the construction of the cells.
RRFCS has been supported by the Department of
Trade and Industry and East Midlands Development Agency in the
UK. These currently supports two technology programmes totalling
£20 million of which £10 million of grant has been received.
This support also underpins collaboration with a number of industrial
and academic partners including MEL, ESL, Scitek, St.Andrews,
Imperial, and Strathclyde universities.
The Committee may be interested in the relative
cost comparisons of engineering expertise in those locations in
which RRFCS operates:
|Annual cost of a qualified engineer with two to three years experience:
||Singapore||£ 19-22k pa
|Post Doctorate Research Assistant:||
||Singapore A*Star Institute
15.2 Public support
UK 50% for approved R&D programmes
USA 50-80% with local state additions
Singapore 50% for research, 30-50% for training and technology
The RRFCS policy is to locate activities where support is
economically attractive provide the programme aligns with the
commercial objectives of the Business.
16.1 Fuel cells offer a replacement for heat engines
to reduce emission levels economically, using today's fuel infrastructure.
Based on the RRFCS example much but not all of the necessary intellectual
property, skill sets and academic teams exist in the UK. The fuel
cell industry is in its infancy with many avenues to explore all
of which are environmentally beneficial and can benefit security
of supply in the future. Exploitation of these avenues will enhance
the ability to establish and lead a new global industry.
16.2 Studies have shown that the UK lags behind other
countries in investment in fuel cell development, most notably
the USA and Japan, with arguably inferior results but this apparent
lead is not permanent. There is evidence that concepts pioneered
by RRFCS are being explored and adopted by potential competitors
who operate in a much more flexible and efficient national support
regime than the UK. Economic incentives to carry out research
and development abroad can erode the UK knowledge base over time.
This is a process that is increasingly having an effect on the
locus of activities of RRFCS.