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NexTech Materials unveils largest solid oxide fuel cell technology platform

Ohio-based NexTech Materials recently completed scale-up of its FlexCell™ solid oxide fuel cell technology to a nominal area of 1200 sq cm and power output of 400 W per cell – believed to be the largest production planar SOFCs yet. This development represents a significant accomplishment in the advancement of the firm’s planar SOFC technology, and together with the many advanced features of the FlexCell technology, is an enabling step for large-scale power applications.

NexTech Materials began development of it FlexCell platform in 2006, and has previously produced cells in the 50–100 W class. These have been deployed for production of stacks intended for military, transportation and micro-CHP (combined heat and power) applications. The large-area cells are intended for large stationary power systems, including CHP systems, distributed generation, and for use in combined coal gasification and fuel cell systems.

The FlexCell technology is an innovative electrolyte-supported SOFC. It incorporates NexTech’s sulfur-tolerant anode system, a durable cathode, and a thin, high-performance electrolyte. The fuel cell can operate on a variety of fuels (fuel-flexible), and its flexible mechanical nature means that it is manufacturable and durable for a variety of applications.

The latest innovation was revealed by Dr Michael Day, the lead inventor of the technology and NexTech’s technical director, at the US Department of Energy’s recent Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) Workshop in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He says that NexTech currently has the capacity to produce hundreds of fuel cells per year, with plans to scale up to a 5 MW per annum pilot facility.

NexTech Materials has received funding for the development work from DOE, Ohio’s Third Frontier Program as well as the US Air Force and US Navy. The company is working on a range of commercial and military products, including CHP systems, auxiliary power units, underwater vehicles, and transportable power generators.

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