NexTech Materials, Ltd. recently completed scale-up of its FlexCell solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology to a nominal area of 1200 cm2 and power output of 400 watts per cell, believed to be the largest production planar fuel cells. This development represents a significant accomplishment in the advancement of its planar fuel cell technology, and together with the many advanced features of the FlexCell™ technology, is enabling for large-scale power applications.
NexTech began development of it FlexCell™ platform in 2006 and has previously produced cells in the 50 to 100-watt class. These have been deployed for production of stacks intended for military, transportation and micro-CHP applications. The large area cells are intended for large stationary power systems, including combined heat and power systems, distributed generation, and for use in combined coal gasification and fuel cell systems.
NexTech’s FlexCell™ technology is an innovative electrolyte-supported SOFC. It incorporates NexTech’s patent pending sulfur tolerant anode system, its durable cathode, and a thin high performance electrolyte. The name is derived from the fuel cell’s ability to operate on a variety of fuels (fuel flexible) and due to its flexible mechanical nature that is manufacturable and durable for a variety of applications.
The latest innovation was revealed on July 16 by Dr. Michael Day, the lead inventor of the technology and NexTech’s Technical Director, at the Department of Energy’s Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance Workshop in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Dr. Day commented during his presentation “the FlexCell™ is the latest improvement in SOFC technology and overcomes significant hurdles to wide scale commercialization.” He acknowledged the strong support he received from his team at NexTech and the funding he received from the State of Ohio’s Third Frontier Program as well as the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and the U.S. Department of Energy. Day reported that NexTech currently has a capacity to produce hundreds of fuel cells per year with plans to scale to a 5-MW per year pilot facility.
William Dawson, CEO of NexTech, commented that “this demonstration marks an important step in NexTech’s commercial development path. We have identified many markets and are working with partners to develop products for several markets.” NexTech is actively working on a range of commercial and military products including combined heat and power systems, auxiliary power units, underwater vehicles, and transportable power generators.