FuelCell Energy has been granted a patent for a fuel cell system that includes a fuel cell unit and a fuel cell controller. The system is designed to generate electrical power for a varying load and adjust the operational parameter of the fuel cell unit based on load conditions. The fuel cell controller receives indications of load levels and operates the fuel cell unit accordingly to optimize power output. The patent aims to improve the efficiency and performance of fuel cell systems. GlobalData’s report on FuelCell Energy gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s company profile on FuelCell Energy, hydrogen fuel cells was a key innovation area identified from patents. FuelCell Energy's grant share as of June 2023 was 1%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Fuel cell system with variable power output control

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: FuelCell Energy Inc

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11688868B2) describes a fuel cell system that is designed to efficiently generate electrical power for a varying electrical load. The system includes a fuel cell unit with a fuel cell stack and a fuel cell controller that is communicatively coupled to the fuel cell unit.

The fuel cell controller receives indications from a load sensor, which is in communication with the controller and connected to the varying electrical load. When the load sensor indicates that the load is at a local maximum within a predetermined period, the fuel cell controller operates the fuel cell stack with an operational parameter set to a first value. This first value limits the maximum amount of electrical power produced by the fuel cell stack to a predetermined percentage of its maximum rated power output.

Once the load sensor indicates that the load has reduced from the local maximum, the fuel cell controller adjusts the operational parameter to a second value. This second value ensures that the fuel cell stack continues to operate and produce electrical power at an amount above a minimum value and below the limited maximum amount of electrical power. The limited maximum amount of electrical power is determined by the thermo-neutral load point of the fuel cell unit.

The patent also describes additional features of the fuel cell system. For example, the load sensor generates signals based on the electrical power demand level of the electrical load. The fuel cell system can be connected to an electrical grid as the electrical load. Additionally, the system can include multiple fuel cell units that work together to generate a total amount of electrical power for the load. The fuel cell controller can operate subsets of these fuel cell units based on the indications from the load sensor.

Overall, this patented fuel cell system aims to optimize the operation of fuel cell units in response to varying electrical loads, ensuring efficient power generation while maintaining stable operation within predetermined limits.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.