Results and Findings
50kWe Prototype Test Facility
A 50kWe fuel cell CHP prototype system has been built at GE’s facilities in Rugby UK. This includes the Fuel Cell Container fuel cell including the automotive derivative PEM fuel cell supplied by NuCellSys, Hydrogen Production Container including natural gas reformer reactors and heat exchangers supplied by Helbio together with Pressure Swing Absorption Unit and tail gas/ hydrogen buffer tanks. Additional items include gas chromatograph and continuous emissions monitoring equipment, natural gas compressor, water purification plant, heat exchangers, accumulator, inverter & direct grid connection and the control system.
Despite pre-commissioning of the Hydrogen Production System in Greece prior to delivery to the prototype test site, the integrated AutoRE system did not complete the planned 3000hr test due to early corrosion failure of the reformer combustion tubes. The presence of corrosion products in the combustion tubes caused the pressure drop to become too high, preventing the use of the Pressure Swing Absorption (PSA) systems tail gas in the combustion cycle. This significantly reduced the efficiency of the unit as only Natural gas was present as the combustion fuel and the tail gas produced by the PSA were effectively wasted. The electrical efficiency of the system was drastically reduced by this issue, with an efficiency of 5.8% at 53% capacity and 11.5% at 100% capacity. This compares to an expected efficiency with tail gas utilization of 36% at 53% capacity and 32.5% at 100%.
Schematic of the prototype plant
50kWe Prototype Test Plant Signage
50kWe Prototype Test Plant in Real Life
Reformer Tubes internal corrosion