The project

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 defense segment.

Project targets

During the project, the following targets will be achieved:

• Improving system efficiency above 50% with novel ideas of thermal integration
• Developing an aqueous phase reformer for methanol pre-reforming for the first time in a commercial HTPEM fuel cell system
• Increase stack efficiency above 55% and fuel utilization above 95%
• The developed system will be validated in a relevant environment for a minimum of 2000 hours over 6 months.
• Plan a scale-up of the system to 50-100 kW
• Develop a business plan including all relevant elements of the methanol fuel cell value chain

Why methanol?

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. 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.

Acknowledgements

This project has received funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement number 875081. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Europe research.