RATIONALE The main development challenges related to the commercialisation of SOFC technology lie in reduction of its cost, increasing its lifetime and efficiency. SOFC stacks are the key components of SOFC systems – they define the main characteristics of the final system like the electrical efficiency, operating temperature, degradation rate and fuel tolerance. SOFC stacks form approximately one third of the total system cost and also their degradation in steady-state and transient operating conditions is the main limiting factor of the system lifetime. Stacks with high performance and efficiency are required for high system efficiency.
This HELTSTACK project combines European top know-how in single cells, coatings, sealing, stack designs and manufacturing technology to produce a novel 1 kW SOFC stack, together with the proof of concept of a 10 kWe SOFC stack. In this project, improvements over the state-of-the-art in cost, performance, efficiency, and reliability will be proven. The project is based on the products of industrial partners Elcogen AS (cells) and Elcogen OY (stacks) and motivated by their interest to further develop and commercialise their products. The project uses also products from industrial providers Picosun Oy (coatings), and Flexitallic Ltd (gaskets). These companies are focusing on different stack parts and are therefore not competing against each other, which enables efficient cooperation. Other project partners are two (2) research institutes. The National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics (NICPB) supports Elcogen in cell development and coordinates their use in stack. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) provides stack design and evaluation. HELTSTACK is therefore bringing together research intensive companies and leading research institutions in Europe to make the knowledge transfer between Industry and Academia reachable.
Transfer of knowledge (ToK) in HELTSTACK is necessary for harmonised development of cell, stack and their characterisation methods. NICPB will provide for Elcogen Finland OY knowledge about achieving optimal cell properties and their adjustment for stack production. It also provides Elcogen AS knowledge about cell design for optimal electrochemical performance. Elcogen AS will provide VTT knowledge about cell mechanical properties important for stack production. VTT will provide Elcogen AS knowledge about long term cell testing. Elcogen AS will provide NICPB knowledge about ceramic production challenges, to improve cell production efficiency.
All manufacturing methods, designs, and materials are chosen so that they are suitable for mass production and lead into decreased costs compared to current state-of-the-art. These methods, designs, and materials have been demonstrated in small-scale, but in this project they will be scaled up to suit manufacturing of a 10 kWe SOFC stack. For example, the high performance of Elcogen cells is already demonstrated with 100×100 mm cell size, but in the HELTSTACK project the cells will be scaled up to 150×150 mm size and developed further. This project will lead to technology to produce a novel 1 kW SOFC stack, a proof of concept of a 10 kWe power scale SOFC stack and furthermore, form the basis for Elcogen’s commercial SOFC stack technology. Therefore, the results of this project are immediately taken into commercialisation. The HELTSTACK programme also provides the possibility for more profound integration of European research at both Academia and Industry levels leading to more efficient and systematic transfer of knowledge and skills between the two sectors, thus increasing the overall European sustainable economic competitiveness in the area of physics.