New hydrogen-based electricity generator beats alternatives

European Commission,  Greece

Challenge

Helbio’s technology addresses the problem of expensive, polluting, inefficient energy supply currently served by conventional micro-power diesel generators in on- and off-grid buildings, telecommunication stations, boats, and other remote locations. Currently off-grid electricity production is unreliable and inefficient, dependent on weather conditions when using renewables, and is polluting, noisy and harmful to the environment when using diesel generators. On-grid buildings in countries like Germany, the United Kingdom (UK), South Korea, Japan and others generate high energy bills. Helbio’s Combined Heat & Power (CHP) system cuts the energy bill by 30% in these markets, solving the problem of expensive centralized energy.

Innovation

Helbio’s technology is an alternative solution to conventional power systems designed for dual operation, either as an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) delivering up to 5 kW electric power or as a Combined Heat and Power System (CHP) delivering up to 7 kW thermal energy with almost no atmospheric pollutants. It is compact and silent and has an electrical efficiency of more than 35%. Compared to a diesel generator, it has much lower maintenance needs and emits 170 times less NOx and hydrocarbons, 27 times less CO and no SOx, while consuming 54% less fuel. In addition, the system is multi-fuel fed, i.e. it can operate with either natural gas, propane/LPG or biogas.

Impact

An AutoRe EU financed project covered the design and construction of a hydrogen generation unit (fuel processor) and the integration with the hydrogen purification subsystem so as to meet hydrogen production capacity and purity specifications set by the fuel cell manufacturer, Daimler. The validation and testing of the integrated system has been done by General Electric at their premises in Rugby, UK. HELBIO has completed successfully the construction, testing and delivery of a 40m³/h hydrogen system.

Potential

There is large market potential for this technology in the fields of telecommunication stations, transportation (trucks), marine (boats and yachts), off-grid or on-grid households and other buildings and small size farms. In general, the main need addressed is availability of electricity, independent of the presence or quality of electrical grid. This need is of the highest importance in developing countries like India, China, Brazil, and others. HELBIO plans to scale up its production capacity in order to achieve a cost reduction through economies of scale. In the meantime, the focus is on installing units for field testing in order to prove the product’s reliability through a life cycle analysis.

 

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