Standardization of SOFC research through SOCTESQA

Research in hydrogen and fuel cell energy systems to be accelerated through standardization

Tuesday 30 Sep 14

The SOCTESQA consortium

The Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux energies alternatives (CEA), Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l'energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile (ENEA), Teknologian tutkimuskeskus (VTT), European Institute for Energy Research (EIFER) and Joint Research Centre – European Commission (JRC).
A new EU project with Danish participation is to standardize the energy technologies solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) and solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOEC) to promote better research and future commercialization.

The energy systems of the future will be dependent on efficient conversion and storage of energy, but despite many years of extensive national and international research and development in solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) and solid oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC), no internationally recognized standards exists.

"The standardization of SOFC and SOEC is of great importance to large scale commercialization of SOC-based products, and I already experience eagerness and a really good cooperation within the group. That bodes well for the results"
Evar Ravn Nielsen, Center Manager of FCH Test Center

SOFC can convert the chemical energy stored in a fuel directly to electricity, while SOEC is basically a SOFC run in reverse, as SOEC can transform excess electricity into hydrogen, in this way storing the electrical energy for later use. But the lack of standardization of the very complex technologies is hampering both the development and the commercialization of the SOFC and SOEC technologies. This problem is addressed with the new EU-project “Solid Oxide Cell Testing, Safety and Quality Assurance”, abbreviated SOCTESQA.

New procedures

“The SOCTESQA consortium has been tasked to develop new uniform and industry wide test procedures for the high temperature solid oxide cells (SOCs), by gathering the experience and the methodology gained by European research institutes plus input from the industry on requirements from different applications, and make a complete set of application-specific test procedures addressing function, performance, durability and degradation”, explains Eva Ravn Nielsen, work package leader in SOCTESQA and Center Manager of FCH Test Center. The Test Center for Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies is a part of the Department for Energy Storage and Conversion at the Technical University of Denmark.

“In addition to the technical objectives, health and safety aspects and environmental issues will also be addressed in accordance with common practice for similar laboratory activity”, explains Eva Ravn Nielsen.

FCH Test Center houses some of the best experimental test facilities worldwide for SOFC and SOEC energy technologies, and it has now joined forces with other internationally renowned research centers and institutes in Finland, Germany, France, The Netherlands and Italy to make the new international standards, in close cooperation with an industrial advisory board which will ensure an industrially relevant outcome of the project from the very beginning.

Several important industrial stakeholders from all over Europe have confirmed to support the project. This ensures a broad industrial advisory impact from different SOFC and SOEC stakeholders, material suppliers, cell and stack manufacturers or system developers on the project, ensuring that a standardization process is developed independently, free from any individual industrial stakeholder`s interests, thus enabling broad international acceptance after the project. This will help and promote the efforts of the consortium.

Gigantic in many ways

 “I have very high expectations for this project. The standardization is of great importance to large scale commercialization of SOC-based products, and I already experience eagerness and a really good cooperation within the group. That bodes well for the results”, says Eva Ravn Nielsen.

SOCTESQA started in May 2014 and the tasks of the consortium are as gigantic as the value of the goal.

Several decades of national and international research efforts has to be gathered, evaluated, harmonized and experimentally validated before SOCTESQA is able to develop new detailed uniform test procedures for both research and industry. The existing standards deal primarily with test of single cells under simple constant operating conditions. The new tests will include testing of both single fuel and electrolysis cells and stacks under dynamic test conditions that reflect the existing range of applications. In addition, many new and advanced characterization techniques will be included as part of the standard procedures.

This is why the close cooperation between researchers, stack manufacturers and system integrators within the consortium is needed, if the project is result in test-protocols enabling researchers and the industry to make true and fair comparison between various existing cells and stack products, easing the integration of new components and hence improve the overall product development.

The goal is to facilitate large scale commercialization of SOC-based products in Europe in the near future.

A collective effort

“This collaborative project will be a small but essential piece of the puzzle to accelerate the development and the market penetration of hydrogen and fuel cell energy systems in Europe, and our project will deliver input to the international standardizations of IEC, ISO and CEN”, says Eva Ravn Nielsen, who is proud to be part of the process.

The SOCTESQA-project is financially supported by the EU 7th Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration.