Saving CO2 Emissions with Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Technology
Unlike hydrogen fuel cells, Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) are able to produce electrical and heat energy from fuels which are already practical such as natural gas. SOFC systems such as Ceres Power’s CHP system can generate electrical and heat energy within a home or business, and can therefore lessen dependency on centralised electricity generation at power plants, as their videos show.
This makes it possible to increase the overall efficiency of natural gas use because it avoids electricity transmission losses and the waste heat losses at power stations. Increasing the efficiency will potentially enable households to make significant savings to their energy bill, whilst also making 1.5 tonnes of CO2 emission savings per year compared to households with a conventional household boiler installed. Even when running on natural gas, the emissions produced by SOFCs are much cleaner than conventional boilers, with much less CO2 emitted, and no emissions at all of NOx and SOx pollutants, which are very bad for air quality. Other than CO2, the only other emission is water. The picture below shows the water produced as a result of SOFC testing at the University of South Wales. The water is very pure, with a slight tinge of red, which is only due to the colour of the pipework used on the system. The purity of the water is such that it can be used for drinking, as it is currently aboard spacecraft equipped with fuel cells.
Research Fellow and Lecturer in Materials Chemistry
Sustainable Environment Research Centre
University of South Wales