The Rolls-Royce fuel cell system is lower cost; more efficient; more easily distributed; more durable and maintainable than its nearest rival.
Rolls-Royce has experience in the system integration of several different types of fuel cells and believes the Solid-Oxide Fuel Cell is the best for stationary power generation applications while retaining the capability of being developed subsequently for various transportation, military and marine applications.
- Simplicity - the fuel cell is produced by screen printing on low cost ceramic type materials using proven production processes and minimal exotic materials.
- Low cost - the system uses commercial-grade materials, has few components and is low in weight.
- Efficiency - nearly double the simple-cycle efficiency of existing power generation technologies.
- Profile - size and weight suitable for distributed generation with potential for power densities equivalent to gas turbine systems.
- Environment - negligible air emissions, minimal noise profile and can be entirely recycled at the end of its useful life.
- Maintainability - unique, modular design enables field change-out without interruption of supply and enhanced support through state-of-the-art diagnostic and prognostic systems.
- Safety - system contains less than ten seconds of fuel supply at any time.
- Durability - low parts count and the elimination of low durability components gives a realistic design target of 40,000 hours operation on a mature product and a 20-year 160,000 hour overall plantlife potential.
- Fuel flexibility - system can be configured to use existing hydrocarbon-based fuels, i.e. natural gas and liquid fuels, and alternative fuels such as coal gas and bio-mass.
- Security - suitable for connection to local distribution networks and in small, secure urban areas.
A fuel cell generates electricity from continuously supplied streams of fuel and oxidant.
The two streams do not mix or burn but produce electricity by electrochemical reactions similar to a conventional battery.
The details of the chemical reactions depend on the type of fuel cell, but in all types an electrically charged ion is transferred through an electrolyte which physically separates the fuel and oxidant streams.
The fuel cell thus provides an elegant means of converting the chemical energy of the fuel directly into electrical energy.