ITM Power has announced a technology update with a particular focus on the MW scale power-to-gas technology platform together with an update on key projects on the Isle of Wight and in Germany.

The company is pleased to announce an overall performance improvement to its rapid response stack platform, enabling hydrogen output to be increased by 11%. ITM Power has previously described its HGas (25kg/day PEM) stack module as being capable of self-pressuring up to 80-bar and responding to changes in power in less than one second. Each stack is now able to generate up to 27.9kg/day at full load at an efficiency of greater than 77%. This increased stack output means the hydrogen produced from a 1MW system consisting of 16 such stacks has increased from 400 to 446kg/day. This represents a significant benefit to end users and will produce a positive impact on the economics of both hydrogen refueling and power to gas applications.

Stack Response Time

The response of an electrolyser stack is a function of both the electrochemistry of the stack and the power electronics. As part of the continuing assessment of the HGas stack platform, a suite of aggressive on/off cycles has been applied. These involve stepping the stack from 100% to 0% and back to 100% capacity every ten minutes to measure reaction time and any changes in performance. Changes in current are observed to take place in 0.2 seconds and are not changing during the testing to date.

Stack Testing

Testing of the HGas stack platform continues alongside accelerated testing of all stacks and key components. ITM Power has recently completed commissioning of a new stack testing laboratory capable of running 16 fully instrumented stacks simultaneously under automated control. This testing suite will further underpin the company’s extensive work focused on the evaluation of long term effects due to cyclic operation and qualifying lower cost methods to delay them. ITM Power currently has 168 electrolyser test stations ranging from individual cell tests, through short stacks to the large HGas platform, together having accrued over two million test hours.

On-site Hydrogen Purification systems

As part of the company’s on-going product improvement process, a fully automated, zero loss, low power hydrogen cleaning system has been qualified for use with the HFuel and HGas product platforms. This has been possible because ITM Power electrolyser stacks are PEM based and operate under differential pressure. As a result, the hydrogen output is naturally low in impurities, enabling the use of a ‘soft’ cleaning stage at approximately 10% of the cost of incumbent technology. This development also increases whole system reliability and efficiency while decreasing costs of operation due to a significantly reduced, five yearly maintenance cycle. The resulting hydrogen purity exceeds the requirements for refueling fuel cell vehicles (ISO/DIS 14687-2).

In addition, a modular and scalable hydrogen drying system has been developed and is now offered as a standalone or integrated product. Five such systems have been sold to date to operate alongside the company’s HPac product, two of which have been to existing customers. The HPac platform now offers an extensive range of hydrogen cleaning options including tailored solutions for bespoke applications. Such systems are capable of achieving a dew point of -40ºC at 15-bar.

Product Commissioning

In response to a batch of electrolyser export sales, the company has further developed its product commissioning process. This has included creation of a small team of engineers, each trained to execute all on-site commissioning stages. This process has been deployed successfully numerous times, has improved close interaction with customers and in some cases generated follow on business for further control system integration.

Supply Chain

Strong commercial relationships have been established with suppliers of key components used in ITM Power’s electrolyser systems. These relationships have been further strengthened by a consolidation exercise made possible by repeat orders for the same HGas product platform.

The EcoIsland Project

Currently the project is proceeding ahead of schedule with the design work largely complete and long lead time components ordered. The planning application for the larger refueller has been submitted and planning permission is anticipated within three months. The refuellers are expected to be delivered to the Isle of Wight in April 2014 with commissioning due for completion in October 2014, ready for the trial to start in November 20014. ITM Power is responsible for the design, build and commissioning of this equipment together with overall project management and coordination with other consortium partners - for example, the company is working closely with Toshiba and IBM to achieve effective integration of the refuelling stations into a wider energy system being deployed on the island.

German Power-to-gas Project

Following the ground-breaking ceremony which took place in early July, ITM Power is now entering the build phase. The plant will be delivered to Frankfurt in September 2013 and on-site commissioning and all necessary compliance (including CE marking and any local permitting) will have been completed by the end of December 2013. The first permission, from the Frankfurt Water Authority, has already been achieved.

ITM Power CTO, Dr. Simon Bourne, commented, “I am very pleased to report the increased output from our flagship stack platform. At any one time, there are many activities within the R&D pipeline and today’s announcement marks the all-important transition into product for one of them. In addition, delivery to our two largest projects is proceeding to plan, which will give us - in the relatively short term - reference sites to demonstrate the significant environmental benefits that our technology can deliver in the real world.”