Rolls-Royce and Lab1886, an innovation lab within the Mercedes-Benz group, have taken the first step in cooperation on the use of vehicle fuel cells for stationary power generation. A pilot project has now been agreed to between Rolls-Royce Power Systems, which produces products and systems under the MTU brand, and Lab1886. Over the coming months, Rolls-Royce will develop an integrated MTU solution for sustainable off-grid generation of continuous and emergency power using vehicle fuel cells, focused on safety-critical applications such as data centers.
MTU generator sets from Rolls-Royce are already in service at numerous data centers worldwide, providing emergency power. To date, these generator sets have been diesel-engine based, but fuel cells could be a valid alternative. The pilot project will begin early next year and will include the construction of an emergency power plant for Rolls-Royce’s data center in Friedrichshafen. The plant will be based on fuel cell modules built by Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH. Mercedes-Benz has developed expertise in hydrogen-powered electric vehicles, while Rolls-Royce has long-standing experience of fuel cell systems using other technologies.
“As a supplier of integrated solutions, the decarbonization of our drive, propulsion and power generation systems is a key strategic aim,” said Andreas Schell, CEO of Rolls-Royce Power Systems. “In pursuing it, we’re open to all technologies. Hence fuel cells are set to become a key technology for us.”
Alongside fuel cell technology, Rolls-Royce is researching the manufacture of hydrogen and other synthetic fuels using renewable energy sources – also for use in fuel cells. “Used in this combination, fuel cells promise to make an even bigger contribution to the energy turnaround,” said Dr. Martin Teigeler, R&D chief of Power Systems. “And we’re delighted to have Lab1886 as our partner because their technological mindset fits ours perfectly. We’re confident that Mercedes-Benz fuel cell modules have the potential to open up new application possibilities in stationary power generation as well, and that’s our market.”