Germany-based international heating manufacturer Viessmann has unveiled its new fuel cell, and it’s a marked improvement on all fronts. Both heat and electricity are generated with the Vitovalor PT2, and the advanced technology employed will yield up to a 40% reduction in energy costs with the effect of reducing emissions.
This and other fuel cells for heat and electricity work by converting the chemical energy of a fuel (in this case natural gas) and combining it with an oxidant (air or oxygen) to produce electricity. It is similar to the way in which a battery operates, but the cell will continue to produce electricity as long as fuel and an oxidizer are supplied, unlike a battery which requires recharging.
The Vitovalor system uses a Panasonic fuel cell module in the unit. Viessmann estimates that the increased efficiency of the unit can bring a savings of €700 per year on energy bills. It is being mooted as being good for 80,000 hours of use and only requires servicing every five years.
In keeping with the future-focused nature of the Vitovalor, it comes equipped with a WLAN interface, meaning the unit can be controlled via a smartphone or tablet.
To further increase the effectiveness of the fuel cell and to truly maximize efficiency, it can be used in combination with the Vitocharge power storage system. In this way, any excess power produced can be stored in the batteries to be used when needed.
The new unit is aimed primarily at the residential family market and is ideally suited to homes with one or two families. 30.8kW of heat can be generated by the fuel cell. In addition to this heat, 18kWh of electricity can be produced, which covers 90% of a 2-person household consumption. Remember that those households are usually on the electricity grid.