NanoDynamic's Revolution SOFCs  (Photo: NanoDynamics)

NanoDynamic's Revolution SOFCs (Photo: NanoDynamics)

Buffalo, New York’s NanoDynamics Energy is at the receiving end of a nice DOE grant to continue development a 400-watt solid oxide fuel cell fuel by hydrogen, methane gas and related biogases. The $2.4 million contract allows NanoDynamics to scale-up their technologies from previous 20-watt+ prototypes SOFCs running on biogas, and develop efficient manufacturing techniques. Biogas is readily available, especially from existing sewage-treatment systems, but R&D work has previously stumbled on how to efficiently deal with the impurities inherent to these gaseous byproducts. The firm thinks it has a viable approach.

“As off-gas from waste treatment plants can vary widely in composition, and is subsequently considered a fairly low-quality fuel source, we tested the performance of our cells on a variety of gas compositions and found that across the board they could maintain relatively stable and efficient performance,” said Dr. Caine Finnerty, vice president of energy products at NanoDynamics Energy. “These tests helped further demonstrate the feasibility of using low-quality fuels in SOFCs, and allowed us to advance our initial single-cell success into development of a small three-cell stack capable of operating on hydrogen, waste gas and propane. This stack produced more than a 60-watt output on each of the fuels tested, and further underscored the inherent real-world advantages of SOFC technology.”

NanoDynamic’s efforts are worth following. They probably aren’t they only ones who are making steady progress in multi-gas fuels, but they are steadily showing new prototypes and bringing new products to market, including their nifty 50- and 60-watt “Revolution” portable units that provide 90 amp hours per day running off of hardware store-variety propane tanks.