The fuel cell by the British company, Ceres Power, called a “Steel Cell”, has achieved a world record 55% efficiency at converting hydrogen to electricity. And just as a amazingly, a 90% efficiency when combined with heat output. Various Korean & Chinese OEMs have already been licensed to develop power systems using the unique Steel Cell technology.
The most promising part about this SOFC (Solid Oxide) fuel cell is that it is made using conventional processes & abundant materials; stainless steel & ceramics, and is therefore very affordable and highly scalable. Most importantly, because it operates at temperatures of around 500°C, the Steel Cell technology won’t need purified hydrogen to operate, but can use the existing infrastructure of mains natural gas. Natural gas is way more energy dense than hydrogen, it’s easier to store and transport as well. Additionally, no platinum is required in the fuel cell manufacture unlike PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) fuel cells such as those used in vehicles.
According to Ceres Power, the Steel Cell is completely scalable. A single cell can power a low-energy light bulb, approximately 100 cells are combined to create a stack, which can supply up to 90% of a home’s electricity needs and all of its hot-water, and 200 stacks can supply a large office, apartment block or supermarket.