Collaborating to Advance Fuel Cell Systems for Stationary Power Generation


TMNA is collaborating with NREL to build, install and evaluate a 1-megawatt (MW) proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell power generation system at NREL’s Flatirons Campus in Arvada, Colorado.


This 3-year, $6.5 million collaboration is funded in part by DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and supports DOE’s H2@Scale vision for clean hydrogen across multiple applications and economic sectors.


The 1-MW fuel cell system integrates multiple Toyota fuel cell modules into a larger system to provide responsive stationary power. Through a previous collaboration, NREL demonstrated the use of an automotive fuel cell system to provide carbon-free power for a data center. This new system is at a significantly larger scale, generating about 15 times more power and capable of direct current and alternating current output.


Toyota leveraged its over 25 years of fuel cell development experience as it designed the 1-MW system, expanding on expertise from the light-duty fuel cell electric vehicle market. Toyota is providing the fuel cell modules and is working with systems integrator, Telios, for the design, balance-of-plant and build of the system for delivery to NREL. Toyota has developed an integrated control system to manage operation of the fuel cell modules to maximize efficiency and system life. The system demonstrates a simplified design as a drop-in replacement to a conventional generator.


NREL researchers will push the operational boundaries of the fuel cell system design to identify performance limitations and degradation over time, generating valuable real-world data to aid with development of future applications. Research and development will also include assessing how the system performs when integrated with energy storage and renewable energy generation systems, such as solar photovoltaic and wind.


The fuel cell generator is part of the Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems (ARIES) megawatt-scale hydrogen system being designed and commissioned at NREL’s Flatirons Campus. The flexible system — which includes a 1.25-MW PEM electrolyzer, 600-kg hydrogen storage system and 1-MW fuel cell generator — provides a platform to demonstrate direct renewable hydrogen production, energy storage, power production and grid integration at the megawatt scale.


The fuel cell generator system is expected to be installed and commissioned in 2023.