Bio fuel cell te chnology 8 4/2017 eFOOD-Lab international
Fuel cells use hydrogen, either directly or reformed within the system.
When operating on pure hydrogen, in applications such as cars,
forklifts and backup power, there are no greenhouse gas emissions.
The only by-products are electricity, heat and water.
When using natural gas to power buildings and production facilities,
the emissions are so low that several US states exempt fuel cells
from air permitting requirements. The use of biogas can reduce lifecycle
emissions to near zero.
Many food operations have adopted the use of fuel cell technology,
with thousands of fuel cells now supplying power to processing
facilities and bakeries, helping to move stock in warehouses and providing
reliable energy to supermarkets.
They are doing so because of the many benefits of fuel cells: Exceptionally
reliable and efficient. Capable of providing 100% power for as long
as fuel is present, even in conditions down to -220F; virtually silent, reducing
noise emissions. Scalable, so that by stacking individual fuel cells
together, you can generate as little or as much power as needed.
Independent operation from the grid, allowing business operations
to continue when grid power goes down, as an back up power. These
attributes allow both stationary and mobile fuel cells to be operated indoors
or out and permit stationary fuel cells to be sited on rooftops, in
basements or adjacent to buildings.
Keeping daily operations running efficiently and seamlessly in a processing, production
or packaging/bottling facility requires a reliable source of power. Many
companies for example in the US food industry are turning to fuel cells to provide
electricity, and in some cases, heating and/or cooling to production sites.
The list is long and includes such household staples as Coca-Cola,
Kellogg’s, Pepperidge Farm, The Wonderful Company, and many
more. These companies are finding savings on multiple levels, including
reductions of emissions, energy costs and water use. Utilising
waste as a source of fuel can further increase savings.
Fuel cells are well-suited for low-temperature operation in refrigerated
storage facilities and freezers, making the technology ideal for
moving food products in supermarkets, food service distributors and
food processor operations.
Today, more than 16,000 fuel cell-powered forklifts operate in US
warehouses, including many in food logistics operations – Coca-Cola,
Nestlé Waters, Newark Farmer’s Market, Sysco, Walmart, Wegmans,
Whole Foods Market, and many more. These companies are taking
advantage of the strong business case for fuel cells, which includes
cost, performance and productivity benefits.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) reports that, compared to
battery forklifts, fuel cells have a lower total cost of ownership, an
80% lower refueling labour cost, and take up 75% less warehouse
space compared to battery charging infrastructure4.
The fuel cell cost advantage per unit is increased by $2,000/year per
forklift for the average high-use facility5. Additional benefits include
meeting or exceeding performance requirements in sub-zero warehouse
temperatures, delivering constant power during the shift with no
performance lags and refueling in minutes using a hydrogen dispenser.
Since there is no need to change a battery for recharging, operation
down time is significantly reduced and valuable warehouse space
used for battery storage can be returned to active use.
DOE/US reports that fuel cell-powered lift trucks operating on hydrogen
made on-site from natural gas have about 33% fewer greenhouse gas emissions
than lift trucks powered by batteries or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
The use of fuel cells goes well beyond forklifts. The US DOE is currently
funding a demonstration project to determine the feasibility of fuel cell-powered
refrigerated transport units (TRU) to replace diesel-powered internal
combustion engines, currently used on trucks transporting refrigerated and
frozen products. Fuel cells are well-suited for low-temperature operation in
refrigerated storage facilities and freezers.
Grocery stores are intensive energy users. After labour costs, energy
costs are the most significant portion of the annual operating budget
for the grocery retail sector. In a typical US store, refrigeration and
lighting comprise about 80% of total electricity use and space heating
accounts for 68% of natural gas use6.
Most of this energy is delivered through traditional power generation,
with a significant portion of the energy lost as heat. But this waste heat
can be turned into useable energy through the use of CHP, where electricity
is produced on-site and the exhaust heat is captured for the provision of
heat, hot water and cooling. By providing more efficient energy use, CHP
fuel cells have the potential to reduce electricity and natural gas costs for
a facility. US grocery chains Whole Foods Market, Stop & Shop, Haggen,
Safeway and Price Chopper operate fuel cell systems at several of their
retail stores, generating 50-95% of the necessary power and heat onsite.
Power to Gas (P2G) and Power to X (P2X) for centralized and decentralized
use and production of green hydrogen and synthetic fuels
Supply Hydrogen from different sources and utilization/demand
for Transport Sector, Buildings and the Food industry