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Transitioning to net zero with fuel cells - by Andreas Schell CEO of Rolls-Royce Power Systems

mtu fuel cell solutions are a key part of the energy transition

A key exhibit on the Rolls-Royce stand at COP26 is the mtu fuel cell system

Fuel cells produce clean electrical power and therefore is an important part of our strategy in reaching net zero carbon by 2050.

We are developing a complete and fully integrated fuel cell solution for the reliable generation of emergency, continuous and prime power in the MW range.

Where will mtu fuel cell systems be used?

There will be many industries that will benefit from using fuel cells instead of traditional diesel power. Transport is an obvious area and we are developing fuel cell systems to power ships. Operators of data centers are also invested in using fuel cell systems. Data centers are highly energy-intensive because all the world's internet traffic passes through them, and they also have to be available 24/7. Fuel cell generators – which can be deployed for emergency power – can enable them to do so. We are also working on fuel cell systems for peak and continuous power supply where they can be used in airports and hospitals.

How do fuel cells work?

Hydrogen reacts with oxygen to form water, giving off electrical energy and heat which can be used to power many different applications.

A single fuel cell consists of an anode, electrolyte and a cathode. On the anode side, a catalyst splits hydrogen into hydrogen protons (H+) and electrons (e-). The protons migrate through the electrolyte to the cathode where they combine with the electrons and ambient oxygen to form water. To achieve more power, several cells are usually connected to form a stack.

As well as fuel cells we are also looking at how our engine series can be adapted for the use of sustainable fuels.

Hydrogen and methanol engines are also being developed as part of this programme, as well as concepts for decentralised power-to-X plants. Power-to-x is a process that converts green electricity into storable fuel.

“We firmly believe that technology can be used to tackle the challenge of climate change. That is the reason why we are presenting our new technologies at the World Climate Summit. We are focusing our technological capabilities to play a leading role in enabling significant elements of the global economy to get to net zero carbon by 2050, including aviation, shipping, and power generation.”

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