OWI Science for Fuels gGmbH, an independent and non-profit research institution, has recently led a three-year project that ambitioned to reform diesel into a fuel gas for solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC). Another goal was also to ensure the coupling with an energy storage system for the operation of networks in the low MW range on ships.

To achieve this goal, the team needed to manufacture new heat exchangers. The thing is, the high gas temperatures of up to 900°C, the limited installation space, a good maintenance concept and the very high safety requirements for ship operation were some of the critical considerations that needed to be taken into account in the project and the conventional designs of existing heat exchangers were simply not a good match for these stringent requirements. Not to mention that tube recuperators are too large and plate recuperators do not meet the high safety requirements.

Rosswag Engineering, the supplier of special metal powders, high-quality components and qualification services,played a key role in the project by bringing its expertise in metal AM. The company that is currently developing a LPBF process parameter marketplace has qualifiedthe high-temperature resistant steel AISI 309 for LPBF to fabricate these components.

Tube bundle and plate recuperators were designed and manufactured in collaboration with the Institute of Thermodynamics at the University of Hanover and Hülsenbusch Apparatebau GmbH. According to simulations and initial tests, the heat transfer rate could be increased by more than 70 % while the needed built volume is just 5 % comparing to conventional tube bundle heat exchangers. The new heat exchangers also meet the high safety requirements for use on ships, Rosswag says.

The beneficial use of newly qualified materials for fuel cell and heat exchanger applications are just some of many new possibilities to be realized by Rosswag’s holistic process chain and the broad variety of meanwhile more than 40 in-house qualified materials, Rosswag concludes.

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