Hydrogen fueled stove for autarkic living final

18. Status-Seminar «Forschen für den Bau im Kontext von Energie und Umwelt»
Hydrogen fueled stove for autarkic living
Hydrogen fueled stove integrated in the EMPA self sufficient building SELF
Benjamin Fumey, EMPA Material Science and Technology, Laboratory of Building
Technology, Ueberlandstrasse 129, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland, benjamin.fumey@empa.ch.
Ulrich F. Vogt, EMPA Material Science and Technology, Laboratory Hydrogen & Energy,
Ueberlandstrasse 129, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland, ulrich.vogt@empa.ch.
Kochen für autarkes Wohnen ist weiterhin eine energetische Herausforderung. Im Sommer
ist elektrisches Kochen mit PV Strom möglich, im Winter ist dies jedoch in unsern
Breitengraden problematisch. Das Speichern von grossen Mengen elektrischer Energie in
Akkumulatoren für das Kochen im Winter würde eine sehr grosse Kapazität erfordern.
Deshalb ist die Umwandlung von Überschussenergie mittels Wasserelektrolyse in
Wasserstoff vorteilhafter. Beim Speichern von Wasserstoff in Metallhydriden entstehen keine
Verluste vom Wasserstoff. Wandler und Speicher sind zudem getrennt, damit können
geringere Systemkosten erreicht werden. Dient Wasserstoff als Energieträger, so besteht die
Möglichkeit, diesen direkt in Wärme um zu wandeln. Zu diesem Zweck wurde ein neuartiger
katalytischdiffuser Wasserstoffbrenner, basierend auf einer hoch porösen Siliziumkarbid
(SiC) Keramikplatte mit Platinbeschichtung entwickelt, der hervorragend zum Kochen
benutzt werden kann.
Cooking is one of the remaining challenges in autarkic living. In summer electric cooking from
PV is well possible. Nevertheless, long term battery storage to cover the energy demand for
electric cooking in winter is not feasible. A superior approach to seasonal PV energy storage
is the production of hydrogen by water electrolysis and storage thereof in metal hydrides.
With this approach no hydrogen loss is encountered during storage time, volumetric energy
density is increased and storage capacity is decupled from power conversion potentially
reducing storage cost. When considering hydrogen as energy carrier the possibility of direct
conversion to heat by catalytic oxidation becomes practicable. To this accord a novel
catalytic diffusion burner for hydrogen, based on highly porous silicon carbide (SiC) ceramic
foams, coated with platinum (Pt) as catalyst has been developed and integrated into a
cooking stove.
4./5. September 2014 – ETH-Zürich
For the Empa mobile self-sufficient living and working unit SELF (Fig. 1) a hydrogen based stove
has been developed [1]. SELF serves as a research and demonstration platform for novel building
and energy technology systems [2]. The unit furnishes users with all common living comforts.
Electric power is provided from PV panels and rain water is collected and purified for drinking water
as well as reused for technical water. Key challenges faced in SELF are the continuous electric
energy and water supply. Fluctuations in the supply of electrical power and water have to be
backed by on board storage, whereby seasonal fluctuation demands large storage capacities.
The SELF electrical storage system functions as a hybrid system. It is composed of lithium ion
batteries for diurnal storage and a hydrogen storage system for seasonal storage. Excess electric
energy is converted to hydrogen using a small PEM hydrogen generator from the Swiss company
Schmidlin with an output of 1 Nl/min (norm liter per minute). Hydrogen is stored in metal hydrate
cylinders and converted to electricity on demand using a 1 kW PEM fuel cell from the Swiss
company MES(Fig.2) [2].
Figure 1:
SELF stand-alone living unit. System size: 3.5m×7.5m×3.2m (W×L×H). The roof accommodates the
photovoltaic power plant for energy production.
Figure 2
SELF energy cycle: solar radiation is converted to electrical energy and stored in batteries, surplus
energy is used to produce hydrogen, stored in metal hydrides alloy AB5 from JMC.
SELF is furnished with a fully functional kitchen, including sink, refrigerator, dishwasher and
hydrogen based cooking stove. Due to the high energy consumption in cooking and the lack of
sufficient solar energy harvesting in winter, electric cooking is not feasible in this setting. In order to
support all year round cooking a hydrogen fuelled stove was developed. Summers excess energy
harvest, stored as hydrogen can so be accessed as cooking fuel. In this approach, compared to
© Benjamin Fumey– 18. Status-Seminar – 4./5. September 2014 – ETH-Zürich
electric cooking via fuel cell in winter, higher conversion efficiency is achieved. Naturally cooking
efficiency would be higher in summer by using an electrical stove (efficiency between 74% to
84%), nevertheless efficiency is not demanded during high energy availability, but in shortage. In
order to reach high cooking comfort, the hydrogen burner was covered with a standard glass
ceramic stovetop (Fig. 4 and cover photo).
Catalytic hydrogen burner development
Hydrogen readily oxidizes in contact with platinum and oxygen [3]. While this is favorable for
conversion to heat, critical safety issues are to be paid attention to. Due to the broad range of
Flammability (4-75%), premixing hydrogen and oxygen prior to oxidation can easily lead to
uncontrolled combustion in the mixing chamber. In order to avoid premixing, an approach where
hydrogen and air are supplied from separate sources to the catalytic active combustion area was
adopted. Catalytic hydrogen combustion can reach temperatures of up to 1000°C. Thus, in
addition to an appropriate catalyst, a sufficient carrier material is required. Silicon carbide ceramic
has a high temperature stability and good thermal shock resistance. In order to allow hydrogen and
air to be supplied from varying sources to the combustion area, reticulated porous silicon carbide
ceramic (RPC) was chosen [4]. These highly porous SiC plates are coated with platinum as
catalyst to ensure a catalytic combustion reaction. In this way, hydrogen can be supplied from the
bottom of the porous SiC plate and air from the top. Fuel and oxidant thus mix only in the porous
combustion area. Uncontrolled combustion is prevented and high passive safety measures are
reached. Hydrogen is immediately oxidized by the redox reaction of hydrogen with oxygen [5] by
the following reaction:
2 H2(g) + O2(g) catalyst → 2 H2O(l) + 572 kJ (1)
The process of hydrogen combustion emits neither carbon oxides nor nitrogen oxides making this
form of heat conversion favorable for save indoor applications. From the exothermic reaction
sufficient heat is produced for cooking purposes.
Through the catalytic combustion any active ignition such as a spark, required by other gas fuelled
stoves, becomes obsolete. The catalytic oxidation of hydrogen in the porous SiC ceramic has the
benefit of omitting no open flame. The burner design consists of two overlying porous SiC plates,
each with catalytic coating, separated with a SiC based porous air diffuser. Hydrogen is supplied
from below into an expansion chamber and penetrates through a highly porous diffuser whereby it
is evenly spread below the active SiC area. On the surface of the main porous catalytic area the
hydrogen reacts at the triple point H -O -Pt according to equation (1). Air is forced to the reaction
zone in between the first and second catalytic area. The second catalytic area serves to oxidize
any remaining hydrogen in order to prevent hydrogen slip through the upper catalytic SiC plate.
The hydrogen diffuser is designed smaller in diameter in relation to the reaction zone to prevent
hydrogen from escaping through the rim of the diffuser prior to oxidizing.
Figure 3:
Catalytic diffusive hydrogen burner setup. Hydrogen is supplied from below, air is supplied between
the 2 catalytic areas.
© Benjamin Fumey– 18. Status-Seminar – 4./5. September 2014 – ETH-Zürich
Hydrogen stove development
In the development of the hydrogen stove a hydrogen burner as described above was integrated
into a specially designed casing and covered with a glass ceramic top. A heat exchanger was
included to preheat the incoming air with the exhaust air leading to a significant improvement in
efficiency and reduction in exhaust temperatures (Table 2). The exhaust air and water vapor is
released through the exhaust tube below the inner casing as demonstrated in figure 4. The
complete system is fastened to the glass ceramic top and can be integrated into a kitchen counter
top. Common thermal safety features as implemented in an electric glass ceramic stove were
used. Thus a temperature safety switch was placed above the burner to prevent excess
temperature above 600°C. Power regulation was achieved with a common stove switch producing
a slow PWM signal in dependence of the power setting. Power is thus not regulated by continuous
hydrogen flow regulation, but by switching hydrogen and air flow on and off. Figure 5 shows the
stovetop assembly. The left CAD drawing shows an expanded view of the stove. Starting from the
top is the glass ceramic plate followed by the standard temperature safety switch, the hydrogen
burner and heat exchanger, the inner casing and the outer casing. The complete stove has a
volume of 400 mm by 290 mm by 94 mm.
Figure 4:
Left: Expanded picture of the hydrogen stove. Right: Outer dimensions of the hydrogen stove.
Methods and results
In order to improve the oxidation process, which in turn increases the area specific power density
necessary for a cooker, a concept with forced air supply is required (Fig. 3) [6]. Thus higher air and
hydrogen flows can be realized, achieving higher overall area specific power ratios. Table 1 shows
the burner area specific power in dependence of the hydrogen flow for an active burner area of
176 cm2.
Hydrogen flow
Lower heating value Area specific power Air flow λ = 3
© Benjamin Fumey– 18. Status-Seminar – 4./5. September 2014 – ETH-Zürich
Table 1:
Heating values, area specific power in respect to the hydrogen flow rate. Air flow for λ = 3, SiC burner
plate diameter = 150 mm.
In this approach, the airflow can be quantified and specific ratios of air to hydrogen evaluated.
While a stoichiometry of λ=1 is the minimum ratio of oxygen to hydrogen required for the complete
oxidation reaction, in practice a lambda ratio of 2-3 is used.
To verify safe operation, the hydrogen slip during operation must be tested. This refers to the
amount of hydrogen passing the catalytic porous burner without oxidizing. Hydrogen slip occurs
mainly due to inadequate distribution of oxygen on the catalytic burner plate or insufficient air
lambda values. A low hydrogen slip improves safety aspects and is an important issue concerning
total efficiency [7].
For quantifying the hydrogen loss, online mass spectrometry was used to analyze the exhaust
gases. The quantification is done in parts per million (ppm) of hydrogen in the exhaust air. Testing
was carried out to distinguish the optimal air to hydrogen ratio in respect to hydrogen slip and SiC
burner temperature as well as glass ceramic surface temperature. Hydrogen flows of 2 Nl/min to
8 Nl/min were tested with lambda values of 1.5 to 3, as shown in figure 6. These testes were done
with the forerunner design of the final stove shown in figure 5. Nevertheless the measurements are
comparable. The best results concerning H2 slip as well as surface temperature could be reached
with λ ≥ 2.
Fig. 5:
Left: Dependence of hydrogen slip vs. hydrogen flow at different lambda values.
Right: Temperature on the SiC ceramic (on plate) and on the glass ceramic (on ceramic)
in relation to hydrogen flow and λ values.
Figure 7 shows the effect of self-ignition of hydrogen. The tests are carried out with a hydrogen
flow rate of 8 Nl/min and λ = 3, corresponding to an actual air flow of 60 Nl/min. Just after starting
the reaction, the initial hydrogen slip was determined by 18’000 ppm (1.8 vol%) which is still
considerably below the lower ignition limit of 4 vol% hydrogen in air. As the catalytic coated SiC
foam reaches 585 °C, self-ignition occurs inside the porous SiC structure. Hydrogen oxidation now
takes place by catalytic combustion on the platinum coated porous SiC ceramics and by thermal
catalyzed combustion. This leads to a further improvement in the oxidation of hydrogen and thus
reduces the hydrogen slip in the exhaust gas to values below 50 ppm. At the point of self-ignition,
a rise in temperature on the SiC surface can be observed. The burner plate surface levels at
approximately 850°C while the glass ceramic surface reaches the maximum temperature of 600°C.
© Benjamin Fumey– 18. Status-Seminar – 4./5. September 2014 – ETH-Zürich
Figure 6:
Temperature over time, H2 leakage and self ignition point for a H2 flow rate of 8 Nl/min and λ = 3.
Efficiency tests were carried out according to DIN EN 30-2-1 [7]. This standard deals with home
cooking stoves based on gaseous fuels. The testing procedure consists of heating 3.7 kg of water
in a pot with an inner diameter of 220 mm from 20 ± 1 °C to 90 ± 1 °C. The minimum cooking
efficiency by the DIN norm is set to be 52% for gas stoves. As pointed out, to improve the overall
efficiency of the hydrogen stove, a heat exchanger was implemented. Incoming air is preheated via
heat exchanger by the exhaust air. Tests have been carried out with heat exchanger and glass
ceramic cover as well as without heat exchanger and/or glass ceramic cover to compare the
corresponding efficiencies.
The efficiency tests were done at hydrogen flow rates of 6 Nl/min, 7 Nl/min and 8 Nl/min (Table 2).
Based on the lower heating value, the efficiency was found to be 59% without heat exchanger,
66% for the complete setup with heat exchanger and glass ceramic and 70% with heat exchanger
but without glass ceramic plate.
Hydrogen flow
Air flow Power (LHV) Efficiency (LHV) Setup
[Nl/min] [W]
Table 2:
glass ceramic and heat exchanger
glass ceramic and heat exchanger
without heat exchanger
without glass ceramic
glass ceramic and heat exchanger
Cooker efficiencies for different set ups and H2 flow rates, λ = 2.0 respectively 2.4.
Discussion and perspectives
In this research and development project a safe hydrogen fueled catalytic burner was built up and
integrated into the EMPA SELF building as a fully functioning glass ceramic stove top. This
approach permits all year round carbon free autarkic cooking independent of the momentary
available solar radiation.
By preventing premixing of hydrogen and air, safe operation is achieved and due to the absence of
carbon and the relatively low temperatures below 1000 °C no hazardous gases are expelled.
© Benjamin Fumey– 18. Status-Seminar – 4./5. September 2014 – ETH-Zürich
An efficiency of 66 % could be reached. This is considerably higher than the standard for
conventional gas stoves which is approximately 56 % or what could be reached using a fuel cell
and electric stove which would be only approximately 35 %.
The results from the tests conducted throughout this research project have proven the possibility of
using hydrogen for all year round autarkic cooking. This approach is able to match safety,
efficiency, performance and convenience of commercially available gas- or electro stoves.
Financial support by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy in the frame of the BFE contract number
154485 corresponding to the project number 103401 is gratefully acknowledged. Further we
gratefully acknowledge the keen support from GWM, Gerätewerk Matrei Austria, in the prototype
production. Financial support by our research institutions EMPA Swiss Federal Laboratories for
Materials Science and Technology is gratefully acknowledged.
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Combustion on Porous SiC Ceramics, European Fuel Cell Forum 2011, Luzern Switzerland
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on hydrogen for the self-sufficient living unit (SELF), Journal of Power Sources (electronically
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© Benjamin Fumey– 18. Status-Seminar – 4./5. September 2014 – ETH-Zürich
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