Tubular Fuel Cell System Tested for Residential Use by NIST

Acumentrics Corporation, developer of solid oxide fuel cells, has submitted its 5-kilowatt (kW) fuel cell generator to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, to help with testing.

NIST, which is part of the US Department of Commerce, is using the Acumentrics generator, among others, to develop a proposed standard for rating the performance of residential fuel cells.

The aim of the NIST Residential Fuel Cell Test Facility is “to determine the seasonal performance of residential fuel cell systems for the development of a consumer-oriented performance rating.” It has also evaluated polymer fuel cell technology. Acumentrics believes that its tubular ceramics will be most compatible with home use because they offer electric load following and fuel flexibility.

“As fuel cell manufacturers continue to improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of fuel cell technology, the feasibility of residential fuel cells draws closer,” said Mark Davis, the principal investigator of NIST’s Residential Fuel Cell Test Facility. “NIST strongly believes that widespread adoption of residential fuel cells will suffer without a means for future consumers to evaluate the costs and benefits of the technology in terms with which they are familiar.”

Because Acumentrics’ ceramic fuel-cell tubes operate at high temperature, they accept hydrocarbons such as propane, natural gas, and biogas directly, and disassociate the fuel inside the cell via in-situ reformation. The result is a system that does not require extra fuel-preprocessing equipment. Acumentrics’ fuel cells can also operate on hydrogen.

“NIST provides a critical service to American consumers,” said Gary Simon, Acumentrics’ CEO. “We are looking forward to their feedback, because it is unbiased. And I know our team has developed a safe system, not only in terms of people and buildings, but also the environment.”

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