Japan's Kyocera has rolled out a 3kW solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) cogeneration system targeting institutional applications.

To produce electricity and heat, a fuel cell system extracts hydrogen from utility-supplied gas or liquid petroleum gas and triggers reactions with oxygen in the air. As a form of distributed power generation, SOFCs offer great potential to reduce energy losses associated with power transmission. Furthermore, the exhaust heat from power generating processes is effectively used for other purposes including heating water. The SOFC system offers substantial energy savings and lower CO2 emissions than conventional cogeneration systems using internal-combustion engines or gas turbines.

Previous SOFC systems have utilised ceramics as the electrolyte to recycle exhaust heat and achieve higher power generation efficiency, but there has been a longstanding challenge with durability.

Kyocera began developing proprietary ceramic technologies for SOFC applications in 1985. In 2011, the company began mass production of world-leading cell stacks for the residential-use “ENE-FARM type S.” A more efficient and compact cell stack launched in April 2016 serves as the foundation of the new 3kW SOFC system.

Kyocera's new SOFC system achieves a 3kW power rating by incorporating four of Kyocera’s 700W cell stacks. By utilising exhaust heat from power generation, the new system delivers 52% generation efficiency and total energy efficiency of 90% with exhaust heat recovery.

The system is capable of adjusting power generation in proportion to demand, according to Kyocera. In addition to providing a steady 3kW of power, the system can be used as a demand-regulated power supply.

The system's design enables the use of exhaust heat from the power generation process to heat water. These characteristics make the system well-suited for retail establishments and other commercial enterprises, including small restaurants, according to the company.