A New Trendsetting Fuel Cell Alliance

Jun 24, 2010, 08:00 ET from H.C. Starck

SELB, Germany and ESCHENBACH, Germany, June 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Today H.C. Starck Ceramics and Kerafol announced their partnership in manufacturing, sales, and distribution of high-temperature SOFCs (solid oxide fuel cells) doped with scandium.

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Because the scandium-doped zirconia used in these fuel cells is highly conductive, scandium-doped solid oxide fuel cells have the highest output potential of all electrolyte-supported fuel cells (ESC), and as a result are an essential, key component of innovative fuel cell technology.

H.C. Starck and Kerafol's alliance creates new potential synergies which complement each other reciprocally, with Kerafol contributing its specialized knowledge of scandium-doped electrolytes and H.C. Starck its expertise in electrode manufacturing to the partnership. The result is the first high-output, scandium-doped cell with its origins in Europe.

In conjunction with the appropriate interconnectors, the new cells make it possible to manufacture SOFC stacks and systems with extraordinary performance and a long service life. Scandium-doped cells are particularly suited for use with interconnectors which contain a high percentage of chromium (CrFe5). The cell, marketed under the product name ESC 10, is available for purchase immediately.

"I am extremely pleased that thanks to H.C. Starck and Kerafol bundling their fuel cell expertise, we were able to develop this new, promising fuel cell product in such a short period of time," says Dr. Andreas Sieverdingbeck, President of H.C. Starck Ceramics GmbH & Co. KG. "Each company's range of competencies complements the other perfectly."

Mr. Franz Koppe, President and Owner of Kerafol – Keramische Folien GmbH says: "The results of our jointly-developed ESC cell were excellent, and as a result we can manufacture cells with significantly improved performance characteristics at market-friendly rates. Together we are strong."

H.C. Starck has been active in the field of fuel cell technology since 2003. In early 2008, H.C. Starck put two productions lines into operation at its facility in Selb to manufacture solid oxide fuel cells. These lines were especially designed for cells based on anode substrate and electrolyte technology, and have a capacity of approximately 200,000 cells annually.

With its existing state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment which can manufacture products with a width of up to one meter in cleanroom conditions, Kerafol can produce more than one million oxide and non-oxide ceramic goods annually. This means that together, the companies not only have the ability to manufacture cells with improved performance characteristics, but will also be able to manufacture the quantities required to meet the increased demand.

Some background information on solid oxide fuel cells: Fuel cells are considered to be a key technology for the future of electricity generation. In an SOFC, a fuel's chemical energy is directly converted into electrical energy in an electrochemical reaction. This is why fuel cells are more effective than other conventional means of generating electricity. Fuel cell technology is an environmentally-friendly and highly efficient solution for on-site energy or for combined heat and power. Solid oxide fuel cells have the ability to make direct use of a number of different types of fuel (natural gas, hydrogen, methanol, ethanol, biogas, or carbon monoxide). In order to achieve higher voltages, several cells are joined together in a series into what is known as a stack, and this stack forms one electricity-supplying fuel cell unit.

About H.C. Starck

The H.C. Starck Group is a leading global supplier of refractory metals, technical ceramics, and conductive polymers, and serves growing industries such as the electronics, chemicals, automotive, medical technology, aerospace, energy technology, and environmental technology industries, as well as mechanical engineering and tool manufacturers. H.C. Starck has its own manufacturing facilities located in Europe, America, and Asia, and has close to 3,000 employees worldwide.

About Kerafol

Kerafol – Keramische Folien GmbH develops and produces ceramic tape for a wide range of applications using a special manufacturing process. Ceramic tape is used in a number of different fields, including microelectronics, thermal management, filtration, sensor technology, porcelain tape, and solid oxide fuel cells. Kerafol has played an active role in the field of solid oxide fuel cells, specifically scandium-doped fuel cells, since development of the technology began in the 1990's.

SOURCE H.C. Starck