Solid Oxide Fuel Cells Show Market Gains, Research Promise

Global sales of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) will grow at a 22.2% annual rate between now and 2008, according to a recent report. Though not yet fully commercialized, SOFC systems are anticipated to be popular options for larger stationary applications, such as combined heat-and-power installations, say the authors of "RGP-282 Solid Oxide Fuel Cells," recently released by Business Communicati...

03/01/2004


Global sales of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) will grow at a 22.2% annual rate between now and 2008, according to a recent report. Though not yet fully commercialized, SOFC systems are anticipated to be popular options for larger stationary applications, such as combined heat-and-power installations, say the authors of "RGP-282 Solid Oxide Fuel Cells," recently released by Business Communications Company, Inc.

The report values the current global SOFC market at $123 million, with the United States responsible for about 55% of that figure. The report pegs 2008 market value at $335 million.

A new research effort is hoped to further eventual acceptance of the solid oxide technology by developing better technologies for sealing the individual stacks that make up an SOFC unit.

The stacks incorporate a group of thin ceramic cells separated by gas seals, which prevent fuels and oxidants from intermixing. Scientists at NASA and the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will work together to develop composite glass and glass-ceramic materials to better ensure seal performance.

The overall stationary fuel-cell market is expected to rise to nearly 18,000 megawatts (MW) by 2013, from 2003's 55 MW, according to another report, released by ABI, a New York-based technology market-research firm. The report, "Stationary Fuel Cell Markets: A Global Market Analysis," notes early markets for stationary units in telecommunication backup centers and data centers, and in wastewater treatment plants, where waste-produced methane provides free fuel.

Standards writers at Underwriters Laboratories and CSA America are now working on a new standard for the process of extracting hydrogen from fuels for powering fuel cells. The guideline, schedule to be completed in December 2004, is seen as an important step for those developing fuel-cell related equipment and processes.





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