Standardization of SOFC research through SOCTESQA. Photo: DTU

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

Thursday 02 Oct 14

Partners in SOCTESQA

  • 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) 

  • 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.

By Kasper Haagen Skovse

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.  

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 now addressed with the new EU-project “Solid Oxide Cell Testing, Safety and Quality Assurance”, abbreviated SOCTESQA.  

New procedures
“The SOCTESQA consortium has been tasked with developing 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—SOCTESQU will 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 the Test Center for Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies at DTU Energy Conversion.   

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

The Test Center for Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies (FCH) houses some of the best experimental test facilities worldwide for SOFC and SOEC energy technologies. The centre has now joined forces with other internationally renowned research centers and institutes in Finland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Italy to develope 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.  

A comprehensive project
SOCTESQA started in May 2014 and the consortium is face with quite a massive task—the overall goal being to facilitate large scale commercialization of SOC-based products in Europe in the near future.  

Several decades of national and international research efforts have to be gathered, evaluated, harmonized, and experimentally validated before SOCTESQA is able to develop new, detailed and 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.  

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.