How Cycling Maximizes the Fuel Efficiency of SOFC

When comparing offgrid power technologies, key factors to consider are durability in different environments and maintenance needs. And one thing that will make a huge impact on the long-term cost of a power product is how much fuel it needs.

Some internal combustion engine generators, especially those unable to cycle on and off, can run just 8 hours on 20 pounds of propane. That can mean 3 site visits in one 24-hour period. This is fine if the generator is in an easy-to-reach location with good weather conditions, and if maintainers are available to make frequent refueling trips.

However, maintainers sometimes have to venture out in treacherous weather — from hurricanes and snowstorms to wildfires and ice storms — to keep power running. And some sites are so remote that refueling can only be done with a helicopter, ATV or other special transport, and only during certain months of the year. When site visits are costly or dangerous, finding a power source that’s highly fuel-efficient is vital.

At Adaptive Energy, our customers rely on our solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) for reliable, low-maintenance and highly efficient power. Unlike all other low-watt offgrid power technology, our Performer Series SOFC are engineered to cycle on when voltage dips below a set threshold and back off when the battery is charged. Fuel is used only when the system is charging the battery, which is what makes our products so fuel-efficient.

And when it comes to measuring the cost of fuel, projected runtime is an important consideration because it dictates fuel usage. For example, if the SOFC cycles on to supplement a solar array only during times of darkness or cloud cover, it uses less fuel than a product that continuously runs like a generator.

In fact, 20 pounds of propane can provide 80 hours of runtime for a Performer Series SOFC. That’s days of power, compared to the hours available from a generator. This window also offers plenty of time to schedule a refueling visit when the conditions are safe. That’s why, especially for remote sites, fuel efficiency is crucial.

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