Otis is working with the Cresitt Industry and a laboratory of the CNRS to develop an elevator (lift) ecological based on the use of a fuel cell powered by hydrogen. The system boasts a high level of energy autonomy thanks to the hybridization with a photovoltaic installation. The future of the elevation ?
Since 2016, the scientific laboratories of the Gremi (Group for research on the energy of the ionised media – CNRS/University of Orléans) and the Cresitt (regional Centre in electronics and systems innovation through transfers of technology in the industry) have been working with Otis to develop the lift in the future. The american manufacturer had already made the first step towards the cabins autonomous with the inauguration Rézé (Loire-Atlantique), a lift powered in part by solar panels located in the roof of the building of social housing it was screwed.
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But this solution only covered an average of 80 % of the electricity needs of the system, depending on the sunlight conditions. The answer to this problem of intermittency of the resource may be at hand thanks to the use of electrical storage. However, no use of classic lead-acid batteries, heavy, bulky and polluting. The technicians have opted for a fuel cell, the so-called Sapac (“autonomous System of fuel cell and photovoltaic power”) that will give the cabin an autonomy of a whole day of functioning without the input of the network, approximately 140 trips.
Effective but still too expensive
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The energy produced by the solar collectors is stored in the form of hydrogen from the electrolysis of water. This hydrogen will power the fuel cell when the primary energy source becomes insufficient (at night for example). Otis announces that the solution is modular and that it adapts to the different needs of maximum power or of self-sought. “The increase of autonomy has no impact on the electronic part“, informs the industrial that states that the answer lies in the simple addition of a bottle of hydrogen. The prototype scale of 1 presented at Gien (Loiret), for example, enables a storage of 5 kWh of electricity per 100 kg of mass. The equivalent in batteries classic would have been three times as heavy, and twice as large.
Result : the lift to hydrogen, which only consumes a few liters of water per year (about thirty in operation) and the current from the solar panels. It emits only water vapor and does not require metal pollutants such as lead or cadmium, that complicate recycling. Remains a problem to be addressed, that of cost. Fuel cells remain expensive, and the price of the order of € 20,000 for the system is still much too high for a commercial offering relevant to be proposed. But, as with all technologies, the price should rapidly decline in the coming years, allowing all buildings to be positive energy to further reduce their carbon footprint.