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The EMPOWER project kicks off in Espoo

The kick-off meeting of the European project “EMPOWER – European methanol powered fuel cell CHP” took place Tuesday, 4 February 2020, in Espoo, at VTT.

EMPOWER is receiving EU funding of 1.5 M€ from the the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) programme under grant agreement no. 875081. The Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Europe research. The project is coordinated by VTT in collaboration with four other European partners.

The EMPOWER project will develop, manufacture and validate a methanol fueled 5 kW combined heat and power (CHP) system based on high temperature PEM fuel cell technology. The project will enhance the system efficiency to target the mini-CHP market and provide a cost competitive and low carbon option. The developed CHP unit will be capable of fast start-up and fast dynamic response to help integration of intermittent power production from renewable energy sources. The developed system will be validated and demonstrated for six months at the site of an end user. Target customers include end users from the industrial, construction and defence segement.

Methanol is a liquid fuel, which can be stored in a cost-effective way by using existing non-pressurized tank systems and is easily distributed through the existing infrastructure of road tanker trucks and refueling stations. Advantages of using methanol in an efficient high-temperature PEM fuel cell CHP system include reduced greenhouse gas emissions, cost-effective and high-density on-site energy storage, noise reduction, and low levelized cost of energy.

Methanol produced from renewable sources reduces carbon dioxide emissions by up to 95% and eliminates nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxide and particulate matter emissions. Reducing emissions is essential in combating climate change and improving public health through improved air quality.

Renewable methanol can be manufactured from a variety of widely available feedstock such as synthesis gas from biomass, agricultural and timber waste, solid municipal waste and recycled carbon dioxide combined with renewable hydrogen. Manufacturing renewable methanol from locally sourced feedstock supports sector coupling and reduces national dependence of imported fossil fuels.

Project partners:

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd is a Finnish non-profit multidisciplinary expert organization with 20 years of fuel cell R&D experience.

Blue World Technologies ApS is a young company focused on methanol fuel cell systems for automotive and other applications. Accumulated, the company has more than 220    years of fuel cell experience.

Catator AB is a high-tech company in the field of catalysis and catalytic process design. Catator is to become a key supplier worldwide of high quality catalytic systems for efficient energy supply.

Universidade do Porto, Chemical Engineering Department, is a benchmark institution for Higher Education and Scientific Research in Portugal and one of the top 51-100 World Universities for Chemical Engineering.

THT Control Oy has more than 20 years of experience in industrial automation. It designs and provides tailor-made automation solutions to customers of all sizes, both industry and private sectors.