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Wärtsilä Develops Fuel Cell Unit

Posted on February 22, 2010

Wärtsilä has announced that its solid oxide fuel cell unit, running on landfill gas has concluded the first phase of its validation program. The power generating unit has been operating for more than 1500 hours producing electricity with extremely low emissions to households in Vaasa, Finland.

The WFC20 is fueled by methane rich gas, originating from a nearby landfill. The WFC20 is based on planar solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology, which is supplied by the Danish company Topsoe Fuel Cell A/S. Wärtsilä reports that the demonstrated energy efficiency has reach high levels with low exhaust gas emissions. Also, the unit has been able to operate consistently despite the biogas having low and fluctuating methane content.

The fuel cell unit produces an electric output of approximately 20 kW, which is enough to power approximately 10 households in the area. The thermal output of the unit ranges from 14 to 17 kW. "We are very pleased with performance of our first fuel cell unit being operated in the field in a real and challenging environment. The entire experience has so far been very positive, and it provides an excellent platform for us to continue our work on fuel cell solutions for the future," said Erkko Fontell, Director, Fuel cell, Wärtsilä Finland.

The development of fuel cell technology is a part of Wärtsilä's long-term product development, aimed at supplementing Wärtsilä's product portfolio. The landfill gas used by the fuel cell power plant is a renewable fuel, which means that the fuel cell technology enables the energy and climate package targets of the EU Commission to be attained. According to the EU's climate and energy package, Finland is expected to increase its share of renewable sources from the present 28 to 38% of energy production by 2020.

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