ZTEK Corporation

High Performance Steam Reforming
Fuel Cells

Contact Robb Edwards:


What is ZTEK's state of readiness or status on each of the key components?
Fuel cell stacks have been the focus of ZTEK principles since the early 1980s. During the 1994-95 time frame ZTEK successfully operated a 1-kW fuel cell stack for over 16,000 hours using electric thermal control and a laboratory gas mixture comprised partially of bottled hydrogen. This effort was jointly sponsored by ZTEK and the Electric Power Research Institute and was done to verify the proof of concept of the ZTEK fuel cell stack design.

Since 1996 the development of balance-of-plant has been done under the joint sponsorship of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and ZTEK. A 25-kW system was constructed at ZTEK and directly put into developmental testing at Huntsville Utilities, one of TVA's electric utility customers as well as seller of natural gas. This time the system operated using natural gas as the fuel for the reactant processors rather than the laboratory gas mix.

Over two years of field operation ZTEK has fully tested and fine tuned the various subsystems including air thermal recuperation, steam subsystem, compact internal fuel reformer, transportable in-situ support for the full-length fuel cell stacks and major functions of the control software. The complete scope of field logistics, service, support and operator training has been fully implemented. The system has returned to the factory for further refinements and with additional commercial features.

During 1999 ZTEK began construction and long lead procurement for its 200-kW hybrid fuel cell/gas turbine pressurized system at its Pilot Manufacturing and Integration Facility. The operation experience of the 25-kW non-pressurized system has been directly incorporated into the design and construction of the 200-kW unit. The hybrid unit has all the features of the 25-kW system with the next generation of refinements

The combination of fully patented features and the sophisticated operational control has allowed the system to be constructed with proper footprint, size and weight typically expected of a 200-kW distributed generator. The ZTEK system will have a total weight of 16,000 lb or 80-lb per kW. The value of proper weight and size is a sanity check providing the ultimate assurance of cost control and customer acceptability when entering the mass production phase of ZTEK's fuel cell commercialization. Using a reference of $20/lb of a typical complex mechanical system at today's market costs, the ZTEK fuel cell system has the promise of entering the marketplace at a very competitive cost of $1600 per kilowatt for distributed generation with an efficiency approaching 60%. All of which is packaged in a skid mounted modular approach utilizing a 100 Ft.2 footprint only eight (8) feet in height for each 200-kW module. This will easily accommodate every possible small commercial application including rooftop and confined construction locations.