Fuel Cell Technology from SFC

SFC Energy AG is a leading provider of hydrogen and direct methanol fuel cells for stationary and mobile hybrid power solutions. With the Clean Energy and Clean Power Management business segments, SFC Energy is a sustainably profitable fuel cell producer. The company distributes its award-winning products worldwide and has sold more than 65,000 fuel cells to date.

  • Hydrogen
  • Methanol

Air

Hydrogen

Waste heat + Water vapour

Power

Air

EFOY Fuel Cartridge

Waste heat + Water vapour + CO2

Power

The principle of power generation with the fuel cell

The fuel cell works in a similar way to a battery. It also has an anode and cathode and is an electrochemical cell just like a battery. The difference in the way the fuel cell works, however, is the fuel. Fuel cell technology relies on either hydrogen or methanol - a representative of the alcohol group of substances - as a fuel. Incidentally, this is not stored directly in the unit, as is the case with batteries. During operation of the fuel cell, it is supplied to the anode from a tank, such as a canister or a hydrogen bottle. Oxygen is needed to produce electricity. It is supplied to the cathode as an oxidizing agent. This process is the same for both hydrogen and direct methanol fuel cells. As hydrogen wants to react with oxygen to form water on its own, no external energy is required. The same applies to direct methanol fuel cells. The methanol (CH3OH) reacts with the water to form carbon dioxide and H+ ions and is converted directly into electricity. In addition to electricity, only waste heat and water vapor with little carbon dioxide are produced.

EFOY Hydrogen Fuel Cells are based on PEM (polymer electrolyte membrane) technology. They produce electricity from the fuel hydrogen, supplemented by oxygen from the air. Hydrogen is converted directly into electricity. In addition to electricity, only little water vapor is produced. This hydrogen technology is exceptionally environmentally friendly and nearly emission-free.

One solution for numerous applications: The fuel cell

Around 200 years ago, Sir William Robert Grove unearthed a treasure. Until a few years ago, however, it seemed to have been forgotten. This is unfortunate, because the British physicist had already found the key to sustainable energy generation in 1839. His discovery: the fuel cell.

Today, fuel cell technology is becoming increasingly important. When it comes to reconciling the hunger for energy, the consumption of resources and environmental protection, fuel cell technology plays a key role. Environmentally friendly fuels, higher energy efficiency and a long service life characterise the fuel cell. It is a true multi-talent and can be used in numerous applications. For example, in new mobility concepts.

In cars, lorries and buses, fuel cell technology provides a practical solution for approaching the EU's ambitious CO2 emission targets. In stationary applications it also unfolds its almost inexhaustible potential. Whether as an emergency power generator for mobile telecommunication base stations, in smart traffic applications or as an off-grid alternative for campers and sailors - fuel cell technology is always the linchpin of reliable and environmentally friendly energy generation.

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Many use cases,
low to zero emissions

SFC Energy AG has positioned itself as a pioneer and important innovation driver in the fuel cell technology market. With its direct methanol fuel cells from the EFOY, EMILY and JENNY product series, it covers the high requirements of the public security sector in the best possible way. The power units have a power range from 25 W up to 1.5 kW. With the EFOY Hydrogen, SFC Energy also has a hydrogen fuel cell for high power requirements from 1.5 kW up to 50 kW in its product portfolio. This already impressively demonstrates that fuel cell technology is powerful enough to satisfy the energy needs of both private and professional users. In this respect, they are in no way inferior to conventional energy producers. On the contrary. Compared to combustion engines, fuel cell technology has other decisive advantages. The biggest is certainly their environmental friendliness. While conventional generators emit harmful exhaust gases such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and also fine dust, the hydrogen fuel cell only produces waste heat and water vapour as by-products.

Great performance
without noise, wear and exhaust fumes

At the same time, fuel cell technology operates far more quietly than conventional combustion units. It thus facilitates work during maintenance operations and makes an important contribution in terms of health and safety at the workplace. Fuel cell technology is therefore more quiet during operation because it has almost no mechanical parts. Therefore, the noise emissions of the fuel cell technology of about 45 dB(A) correspond to the noise level of a quiet flat or birds chirping. Without moving, i.e. mechanical parts, fuel cell technology has yet another advantage: It is far less subject to wear than combustion engines. Maintenance work is reduced to a minimum. This also applies to refuelling. Fuel cell technology gets by with the operating fuel (methanol or hydrogen) for longer than conventional generators. In the case of direct methanol fuel cells - as with the EFOY Fuel Cell mode of operation - no special or lengthy training of personnel is required to replace the canisters. Users can easily carry out the exchange themselves. This is a weighty argument, because the ecological and economical mode of operation of fuel cell technology reduces time expenditure and operating costs.

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Autonomous power demand
gains in importance

While the adaptation of fuel cell technology for mobile applications is once again coming into focus, it has already become indispensable for numerous stationary systems. Above all, it serves as a reliable energy generator far from the conventional power grid. In critical infrastructures such as mobile phone masts of the digital public authority radio (BOSNet), the EFOY Hydrogen Fuel Cell 2.5 from SFC Energy acts as an emergency power generator. In the future, it can make an important contribution to autonomous driving in the same capacity. The vehicles must communicate with the repeater stations. An uninterrupted connection is necessary for this. If the power ever fails, the EFOY Hydrogen steps in as an emergency generator. In stationary smart traffic applications, fuel cell technology powers the flexible traffic signs. For private users, the EFOY direct methanol fuel cell - hybridised with the EFOY lithium battery if required - ensures a power supply on board motor homes, sailing boats and holiday cabins away from the conventional power grid. These are just a few of the many possible applications of SFC Energy's fuel cell technology.

Benefits of the EFOY Fuel Cell

High durability and flexability

The SFC Fuel Cell is durable and designed for demanding applications, such as use at high altitudes and under harsh environmental conditions. Fuel cells can be used virtually anywhere and ensures that the battery is supplied with reliable, self-sufficient power both during the day and at night.

Low to zero Emissions

When hydrogen is used to power a fuel cell, the only by-products are water and heat—no pollutants or greenhouse gases. Thanks to the environmentally friendly and quiet power generation of the fuel cell technology, all our solutions can be used in sensitive environments, enclosed vehicles or rooms.

Long operating life and low maintenance

Our fuel cells supply off-grid power for weeks and months – without any user intervention. Remote controlling ensures planning safety, notifies the user of upcoming events, and reduces the need for administration and maintenance.

EFOY Hydrogen 2.5

Power output from 2.5 to 50 kW

The EFOY Hydrogen Fuel Cell expands SFC Energy's extensive product portfolio with energy solutions in the higher power range. Outputs from 2.5 to 50 kW can be individually scaled. Operation and installation are very simple and there are no emissions. The EFOY Hydrogen Fuel Cell can therefore also be used in ecologically sensitive areas and is very quiet and efficient.

More about hydrogen fuel cells

EFOY Fuel Cell with direct methanol

Power range from 40 watts to 2.5 kW

EFOY Direct Methanol Fuel Cells serve a wide range of applications and cover the low to medium power range. The focus here is on quiet and environmentally friendly power generation in areas without access to the conventional power grid. Whether as a self-sufficient energy supply in a motorhome, on a sailing boat or as an off-grid power supply for monitoring systems, measuring stations and many other industrial applications.

More about direct methanol fuel cells

Questions and answers to Fuel Cell Technology

What is a Fuel Cell?

A fuel cell is a device that generates electricity and heat by combining a fuel source, such as hydrogen, with an oxidant (usually oxygen). Each fuel cell has an anode and a cathode. The reactions that produce electricity take place at these electrodes. Each fuel cell also includes an electrolyte that transports electrically charged particles between the electrodes and a catalyst that accelerates the reactions between the electrodes.

What Are the Benefits of Fuel Cells?

  • High Efficiency
    When used in a combined heat and power system, stationary fuel cells can have an efficiency level greater than 80%. SFC fuel energy cells regularly monitor the battery’s charge status and automatically recharge it. As a result, the power of the application is never interrupted. (3)

  • Low-Zero Emissions
    When hydrogen is used to power a fuel cell, the only by-products are water and heat—no pollutants or greenhouse gases. (4) Even when using fossil fuels to power a fuel cell, emissions are considerably reduced compared to conventional fossil fuel-powered energy.

  • Quiet Operation
    Most fuel cells operate silently, making them ideal for use. Thanks to their quiet and emission-free functioning, SFC fuel cells are the modern task forces’ number one choice.

  • Robust Solution
    Depending on the type of fuel cell, they can be employed virtually anywhere. The SFC fuel cell is durable and designed to withstand the hardships of field use. The fuel cell is also suitable for usage at high elevations, in adverse environmental conditions and throughout the day or night. The high mobility of the fuel cell is a major advantage.

  • Energy Security
    Several sources can generate hydrogen, including waste, biomass, wind, solar, tidal, wave and geothermal energy.

What is the difference between a fuel cell and a battery?

In principle, a fuel cell works in a similar way to a battery. It also has an anode and cathode and, like a battery, is an electrochemical cell. The difference in the way the fuel cell works, however, is the fuel. Fuel cell technology uses either hydrogen or methanol as a fuel.

What are the advantages of a fuel cell compared to conventional combustion engines?

Compared to combustion engines, fuel cell technology has decisive advantages. The biggest is certainly its environmental friendliness. While conventional generators emit harmful exhaust gases such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter, hydrogen fuel cells only produce waste heat and water vapor with a very small amount of CO2 as by-products.

Is fuel cell technology quieter than conventional gensets?

As fuel cell technology requires almost no mechanical components, it is significantly quieter than conventional combustion units. The noise level of a fuel cell can be compared to the noise level in a quiet apartment.

Why are there so few vehicles with fuel cell technology?

The main problem with cars with fuel cell technology is the high manufacturing costs. This is partly due to the expensive platinum used. This is another reason why SFC Energy is committed to recycling the components. Fuel cells from SFC Energy are 95 percent recyclable.

What Are Hydrogen Cells Used For?

Hydrogen fuel cells have numerous applications, including powering homes and businesses and moving vehicles such as fuel cell powered cars, buses and trains. Some examples of fuel cell applications include the following:

Power

Fuel cells provide power for a wide range of commercial, industrial and household applications. These include everything from residential spaces to spacecraft and task force operations. Portable fuel cell systems can be used for various applications, from powering small devices to generating lots of power in remote regions. Mobile devices like laptops, for example, benefit from higher energy density and weight reductions over lithium-ion batteries.

Fuel cells are very reliable because they don’t have any moving parts. There is also less than one minute of downtime per six years under ideal conditions, which equates to 99.9999% reliability of fuel cells. (5)

Transport

Fuel cells apply to a vast number of modes of transport. Because of the ability to generate immense power in a small device, a fuel cell electric vehicle could drive substantially further than an all-electric car. (6) Additionally, it is the most environmentally friendly fuel.

References