Bosch signs agreement to develop fuel-cell technology for EV charging

23 August 2018

23 August 2018

Vehicle component and technology supplier Bosch is pressing ahead with the development of fuel-cell technology for potential new power systems.

The company is working with UK-based Ceres Power to develop the next stage of solid-oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology. Bosch also plans to take a 4% equity stake in Ceres Power. The companies have signed a collaboration and license agreement for the further development of technology, and establishment of small-volume production operations at Bosch, as well as a share purchase agreement.

Ceres Power is a leader in the development of next-generation SOFC technology. Its strategy is to commercialise its technology through mass production with partners and to use this technology for grid-based and distributed power generation. The intention is that SOFC systems will be used in cities, factories, and data centres, and also as a power supply for charging points for electric vehicles.

SOFC technology uses an electrochemical reaction in the fuel cell stack to convert fuel such as natural gas or hydrogen into electricity. The environmental benefit is considerable, with much lower emissions than from power stations that use a combustion process.

Together with Ceres Power, Bosch will work on making SOFC technology available for various applications: the vision is to have small power stations set up throughout cities, as well as in industrial areas. Because these standardised plants are highly flexible, they will be able to cover peak demand better, as well as faster, than conventional plants. The aim is for one SOFC module to generate 10 kW of electrical power. Where more electricity is needed, any number of modules with the same output can simply be interconnected.

′Bosch believes that the highly efficient fuel cell, with its very low emissions, has an important role to play in energy systems’ security of supply and flexibility,’ says Stefan Hartung, the Bosch management board member whose responsibilities include the Energy and Building Technology business sector. ′Fuel-cell technology will bring the move to alternative energy a step closer, and we will be working on this with our development partner Ceres Power.’

With urbanisation on the increase, fuel-cell technology has a crucial role to play in securing power supplies: by 2050; it is expected that more than 6 billion people worldwide – 70% of the global population – will live in cities. Even now, the world’s metropolises account for 75% of the energy consumed worldwide. By 2035, global energy consumption will have increased 30%. In the future, meeting this increased demand for electricity solely with large, centralised power stations will not be possible.

′The vision for our partnership with Bosch is to set a new industry standard for solid-oxide fuel cells, leading to widespread adoption of distributed power supplies. By combining Ceres’ unique Steel Cell technology with Bosch’s engineering, manufacturing, and supply chain strength we will establish a strong partnership that can make our technology even more competitive and prepare it for mass production,’ says Phil Caldwell, the CEO of Ceres Power.

There have been concerns that the increase in electric vehicles (EVs) will cause an additional drain on power supplies in towns and cities. In addition, the UK’s National Grid has already warned that home charging will not be the dominant way to charge electric vehicles (EVs) in the future, as ′current EV times are not going to be acceptable,’ and grid limitations mean that charging 300-mile EVs is still going to take more than six hours.