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Fuel cell cogeneration system eyes ordinary homes

Posted: 17 Apr 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:fuel cells? Panasonic power system? home use?

Panasonic, the brand by which Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd is known, announced it has developed a home-use polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) cogeneration system. The cogeneration system is said to have the world's highest power-generating efficiency of up to 39 percent Lower Heating Value (LHV), durability of 40,000 operation-hours and 4,000 start-stop times, and a predicted lifetime of over 10 years.

Striving to achieve its vision of "living in harmony with the environment," Panasonic said its developed this home-use fuel cell cogeneration system for commercialization as a next-generation energy supply system.

Based on the results of large-scale field testing conducted between fiscal 2006 and fiscal 2008, a new system has been developed with upgraded energy-saving features and enhanced reliability. Further field testing is scheduled in fiscal 2009 ending March 31, 2009.

When installed in an ordinary household, the new system can reduce primary energy consumption by 22 percent (about 1.4 times more than the conventional system) and can cut CO2 emissions by 12 percent based on the basic unit for all power sources. With year-round operation, it can save 3,262kWh of primary energy and reduce CO2 emissions by 330kg. The new system can reduce CO2 emissions by 37 percent based on the basic unit for thermal power source. With year-round operation, it can cut CO2 emissions by 1,175kg.

The three-year field tests also found that the system was often operated in a power output range between 500W and 1kW in ordinary households. Within this practical-use range, the new system has reportedly achieved drastically improved power-generating efficiency compared to conventional systems.

Panasonic claims its new system has achieved the power-generating efficiencies of 39 percent (LHV) at 750W; 38 percent or higher in the 500W-1kW range and 34 percent at 300W. The system has also satisfied durability requirements for home-use equipment.

In the conventional system, the fuel processing device is not as efficient and inverter efficiency drops toward its lower output ranges. As a result, the power-generating efficiency of the conventional system is highest at higher ratings, and falls with decreasing output.

Panasonic has made its new system feasible by using cell stack technology that employs highly-durable Membrane Electrode Assemblies (MEA).

Panasonic will install production equipment for the new system in its plant in Kusatsu City, Shiga Prefecture, and will start manufacturing from June this year. In fiscal 2010, further investments will be made to start a full-scale commercialization of this system as a new environmental business that creates a new energy source.

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