Wärtsilä, the leading provider of power solutions to both the marine and energy markets, and Versa Power Systems (VPS), a leading developer of environmentally friendly, high-power solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), has announced a co-operative agreement to develop and integrate Versa Power’s SOFC technology into Wärtsilä products.
A key target of the agreement is to develop commercial Wärtsilä fuel cell products that generate power and heat for various applications in the distributed energy and marine markets. The agreement allows Wärtsilä to integrate VPS fuel cell stack modules, especially for larger power range products. For VPS, the agreement provides a dedicated partner with the ability to commercialize fuel cell products in large markets around the globe.
“VPS is leading the development of large SOFC stacks, and the company’s capabilities support Wärtsilä’s strategy of developing large SOFC systems for the distributed power and marine markets. The agreement with VPS strengthens Wärtsilä’s ability to provide its customers with clean and highly efficient power solutions. Demand is developing rapidly and the commercial potential for such products is very promising,” says Erkko Fontell, director, fuel cells, Wärtsilä.
“Solid oxide fuel cells have low emissions, yet they produce relatively large amounts of electricity for their size,” says Robert Stokes, CEO of Versa Power Systems. “Combining the expertise of our two companies will help meet the growing commercial demand for compact, high-efficiency products.”
An essential element in Wärtsilä’s strategy
Advancing and commercializing fuel cell products is part of Wärtsilä’s long-term development strategy. Offering customers environmentally sound and sustainable energy production technologies is an essential part of the company’s strategy. This co-operation with VPS supports the commercialization of fuel cell products by strengthening the development and supply partnerships.
Wärtsilä has already launched successful pilot projects using fuel cell technology supplied by Topsoe Fuel Cell headquartered in Denmark, and this co-operation will continue as planned. In 2008, Wärtsilä delivered a unique fuel cell unit that operates on landfill gas and produces electricity and heat for the city of Vaasa in Finland. In the summer of 2010, a WFC20 fuel cell unit was installed onboard the Undine, a car carrier owned by Sweden’s Wallenius Lines, for tests associated with the METHAPU project. Additionally, Wärtsilä has developed 50kW WFC50 power units for internal validation.
Fuel cells are electro-chemical devices that combine a fuel source gas with oxygen to produce electricity, heat, and water. The absence of combustion processes significantly reduces harmful emissions of nitrogen and sulphur oxides (NOx and SOx) and particulate emissions are essentially zero. As electricity is generated directly and involves no intermediate mechanical or thermal processes, fuel cells can also be more efficient than conventional combustion-based technologies.
Fuel cells are considered to be one of the most exciting energy technologies for the future. Power solutions based on fuel cell technology are expected to offer significant benefits in power generation applications as well as in the shipping industry, where international emission regulations are becoming increasingly stringent.