ZBT: CHP test centre in the form of self-experimentation

By 2020, the combined use of heat and electricity (co-generation) should account for 25 per cent of total electricity generation. The state government's target is ambitious and technologies to make this target a reality have long been eagerly researched. The Zentrum für Brennstoffzellentechnik GmbH (Centre for Fuel Cell Technology) in Duisburg (ZBT) is in the process of setting up a CHP test centre, where industry and academia are working together to find CHP solutions for the future. The ZBT is even using itself as a guinea pig.

The expansion of CHP provides great potential both for the transformation of the energy system and for climate protection. In NRW, 35 per cent of CO2 emissions and 35 per cent of raw materials could be saved using this. This technology is particularly suited to the heavily populated NRW region, as a dense consumer structure already exists for electricity and heat. The ZBT is now focusing its research at the newly established CHP test centre on this climate-friendly technology of the future. Here, research projects on the subject of CHP are to be carried out together with companies. The focus is on testing new, innovative processes. The combination of classic and new technologies is also meant to identify new potentials.

Engine for progress:

  • saving of 115 tonnes of CO2 per year
  • use of exhaust air for medical applications
  • close co-operation with industrial partners
  • contribution to the market launch of various co-generation technologie

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Photo: KlimaExpo.NRW

As of May, the 100 kW fuel cell is taking over the base load for electricity and heat supply at the ZBT. This involves a phosphoric acid fuel cell (PAFC).

The Research Institute as a Guinea Pig

Fuel cell-based CHP systems promise greater electrical efficiency and lower pollutant emissions. It is precisely in the area of housing that this is making an impact through low sound levels. The ZBT is even testing such a system in self-experiments: In the future, a 100 kW CHP plant based on a phosphoric acid fuel cell will provide the electricity and heat for the ZBT. "The installation is almost a research project in itself," says scientist Dr. Peter Beckhaus. "We have several electricity and heat systems and have to somehow integrate the new system into these." But soon the ZBT will be saving 115 tonnes of CO2 annually – and can also look forward to falling energy costs. The waste heat generated by the fuel cell will be used at different temperatures. "Optimal use of waste heat will also be part of the research project," Beckhaus adds.

Further Uses in Medical Research

Eventually, the fuel cell will even benefit health. In a joint research project with Essen University Hospital, the researchers will test the use of low-oxygen exhaust air from the fuel cell for the treatment of diabetes patients. The exhaust air is also of interest for fire protection applications. The objective of the CHP test centre is to research exactly these kinds of innovative ideas.


"With the CHP test centre, we are creating a strong partnership with companies and are supporting the market launch of new CHP technologies."

Prof. Angelika Heinzel, Managing Director ZBT.

Partners and sponsors

  • ZBT GmbH, Zentrum für BrennstoffzellenTechnik
  • Fuji Electric