Sign In

Fuel Cells and Hydrogen


Top-class FC&H2 research facility 

Fuel cells are a modern means for an efficient and clean production of electricity anywhere where it is needed. Fuel cells are not dependent on the weather. They function as long as they are provided with fuel, such as biogas, natural gas, methanol, diesel or hydrogen. Fuel cells are already on the market. They are used e.g. to power vehicles, to provide high-reliability and high-efficiency power production in homes as well as large installations.

Fuel cell power production and fuel cell technologies are closely related to electrolysis and electrolyzer technologies. The functional counterpart of a fuel cell is an electrolyzer, which instead of producing power and consuming fuel, does exactly the opposite. Electrolysis is especially utilized for the production of clean hydrogen, and aspects related to the hydrogen fuel quality are of significant interest. Therefore, when working with fuel cells, it is relevant to consider the whole FC&H2 domain and this is exactly where VTT's multi-technological experience and knowhow is most valuable to our customers and partners. Whether it is a techno-economic feasibility study or the design and implementation of a special-purpose research hardware, we always look at matters from several different viewpoints.

The work at VTT Fuel Cells and Hydrogen focuses primarily on the most common low temperature and high temperature FC&H2 technologies: proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) and solid oxide technologies (SOFC and SOEC), respectively. PEMFCs are commonly utilized, e.g. as vehicle and back-up power sources, whereas the high-temperature SOFCs are better suited for large-scale stationary installations. Solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOECs) are a developing technology, which promises an ultimately efficient hydrogen production pathway. Integrating SOFCs and SOECs into a single device, then again, enables a completely carbon neutral, highly efficient large-scale electrical energy storage technology. With world class knowhow and constantly developing research facilities our team aims for wide range of partnerships hoping to serve both stack developers and balance-of-plant component developers as well as system integrators.

Fuel Cells and hydrogen services

  • Fuel cell concepts and their techno-economic evaluation for commercial implementation
  • Fuel cell and electrolyser system design
  • System control, fault diagnosis and monitoring development
  • Hydrogen fuel quality for PEMFC systems
  • Computational modelling for research and industrial problem solving
  • Stack and stack component development for SOFC/SOEC and PEMFC systems
  • Performance characterization of SOFC, PEMFC and SOEC technologies

Setting up a reliable fuel cell or electrolysis test environment where flammable gases and especially hydrogen can be treated safely is time consuming and expensive. For this purpose, VTT can provide a fully-automated research infrastructure available for 24/7 operation. In addition to the excellent hardware infrastructure and experimental knowhow, the experimental work at our labs is supported by a strong multi-physical and numerical modelling knowhow. Modelling is applied commonplace, from the very first steps of the experimental work in order to speed-up test planning, to assure a reasonable test setup and to verify result integrity.

Our laboratories offer testing and characterization possibilities for cells, stacks and even complete systems. Hydrogen quality issues can be tackled with purpose-made high-precision analysis tools. Throughout the labs all the test rigs are automatically controlled and all data is safely and continuously logged through a data transfer system with an industrial level of reliability. This enables top-level research and characterization services to a big variety of partners and customers from material developers to system integrators and industrial actors.

Analysis methods such as electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS), signal spectral analysis and a variety of experiment design methods are commonplace at the VTT FC&H2 laboratories. New approaches to studying the critical phenomena to the fuel cell and electrolysis devices are applied and developed continuously.

Our constantly developing FC&H2 facility offer the following possibilities to the customer

  • Several SOFC test stations for the characterization of single cells, short repeating units (SRUs), short stacks and full stacks up to 8 kW, running on hydrogen or natural gas from the grid
  • Several PEMFC test rigs suitable for single cell measurements and stacks up to 8 kW
  • A test station for reversible SOFC/SOEC (rSOC) stacks
  • Heavily instrumented and automated PEMFC and rSOC systems
  • Full control over fuel gas and air composition for simulating operation under biogas, reformate fuel or with different impurities in both fuel and oxidant streams
  • Full control over load cycle profile
  • An extensive in-house workshop
  • Several chemical analysis laboratories with devices for gas chromatography, emission measurement and in-depth material analysis


Fuel cell team 

You have a world-class constantly developing knowhow in FC&H2 technologies at your disposal. Several partners and customer companies both from Finland and from abroad collaborate with us daily. Call us up for a meeting to let us hear how we can help you with FC&H2.



European Union Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme

BALANCE - Hydrogen technology to support deployment of intermittent renewable electricity sources

European Union Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking

ComSos - Commercial-scale SOFC systems

DEMOSOFC - Design and installation of a 175 kWe Solid Oxide Fuel Cell plant

Flagships - Clean waterborne transport in Europe

HYDRAITE - Hydrogen delivery risk assessment and impurity tolerance evaluation

HySTOC - Hydrogen supply and transportation using liquid organic hydrogen carriers

INNO-SOFC - 60 kW SOFC power plant based on an all-European value chain

INSIGHT - Implementation in real SOFC systems of monitoring and diagnostic tools using signal analysis to increase their lifetime

MARANDA - Marine application of a new fuel cell powertrain validated in demanding arctic conditions

qSOFC - Automated mass-manufacturing and quality assurance of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell stacks

REFLEX - Reversible solid oxide Electrolyzer and Fuel cell for optimized Local Energy miX

RorePower - Robust and Remote Power Supply


Business Finland

LOHCNESS - Liquid hydrogen “batteries” for storing renewable energy







European Union Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking

DIAMOND – Diagnosis-aided control for SOFC power systems

HyCoRA - Hydrogen Contaminant Risk Assessment

HyLAW -  Identification of legal rules and administrative processes applicable to Fuel Cell and Hydrogen technologies’ deployment, identification of legal barriers and advocacy towards their removal

INSPIRE - Integration of Novel Stack Components for Performance, Improved Durability and Lower Cost

NELLHI - New all-European high-performance stack: design for mass production

PEMBeyond - PEMFC system and low-grade bioethanol processor unit development for back-up and off-grid power applications

SCORED 2.0 - Steel Coatings For Reducing Degradation in SOFC
SOPHIA - Solar Integrated Pressurized High Temperature Electrolysis

European Union Marie Curie

HELTSTACK - High Efficiency Low Temperature SOFC Stack

[2]        J. Viitakangas, J. Ihonen, P. Koski, M. Reinikainen and T. A. Aarhaug, "Study of Formaldehyde and Formic Acid Contamination Effect on PEMFC", Journal of The Electrochemical Society, 165 (9) F718-F727, 2018

[3]        R. Tuominen, N. Helppolainen, J. Ihonen, and J. Viitakangas, "Probabilistic risk model for assessing hydrogen fuel contamination effects in automotive FC systems," Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, vol. 43, no. 9, pp. 4143–4159, Mar. 2018.

[4]        K. Nikiforow, J. Pennanen, J. Ihonen, S. Uski, and P. Koski, "Power ramp rate capabilities of a 5 kW proton exchange membrane fuel cell system with discrete ejector control," J. Power Sources, vol. 381, pp. 30–37, Mar. 2018.

[5]        J. Ihonen et al., "Operational experiences of PEMFC pilot plant using low grade hydrogen from sodium chlorate production process," Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, vol. 42, no. 44, pp. 27269–27283, 2017.

[6]        J. Tallgren, O. Himanen, and M. Noponen, "Experimental Characterization of Low Temperature Solid Oxide Cell Stack" ECS Trans., vol. 78, no. 1, pp. 3103–3111, May 2017.

[7]        M. Kotisaari, O. Thomann, D. Montinaro, and J. Kiviaho, "Evaluation of a SOE Stack for Hydrogen and Syngas Production: a Performance and Durability Analysis," Fuel Cells, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 571–580, Feb. 2017.

[8]        K. Nikiforow, P. Koski, and J. Ihonen, "Discrete ejector control solution design, characterization, and verification in a 5 kW PEMFC system," Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, 2017.

[9]        J. Tallgren, C. Boigues Muñoz, J. Mikkola, O. Himanen, and J. Kiviaho, "Determination of Temperature and Fuel Utilization Distributions in SOFC Stacks with EIS," ECS Trans., vol. 78, no. 1, pp. 2141–2150, May 2017.

[10]        P. Koski et al., "Development of Reformed Ethanol Fuel Cell System for Backup and Off-grid Applications - System Design and Integration," Proc. IEEE INTELEC 2016, pp. 0–7, Oct. 2016.

[11]        K. Nikiforow, P. Koski, H. Karimäki, J. Ihonen, and V. Alopaeus, "Designing a hydrogen gas ejector for 5 kW stationary PEMFC system – CFD-modeling and experimental validation," Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, 2016.

[12]      J. Tallgren, O. Thomann, M. Halinen, O. Himanen, and J. Kiviaho, "Development of a fuel feeder for a solid oxide fuel cell test station," Int. J. Energy Res., vol. 39, no. 15, pp. 2031–2041, Dec. 2015.

[13]      M. Rautanen, V. Pulkkinen, J. Tallgren, O. Himanen, and J. Kiviaho, "Effects of the first heat up procedure on mechanical properties of solid oxide fuel cell sealing materials," J. Power Sources, vol. 284, pp. 511–516, Jun. 2015.

[14]      O. Thomann, M. Rautanen, O. Himanen, J. Tallgren, and J. Kiviaho, "Post-experimental analysis of a solid oxide fuel cell stack using hybrid seals," J. Power Sources, vol. 274, pp. 1009–1015, Jan. 2015.

[15]      J. Tallgren, M. Bianco, O. Himanen, O. Thomann, J. Kiviaho, and J. van Herle, "Evaluation of Protective Coatings for SOFC Interconnects," ECS Trans., vol. 68, no. 1, pp. 1597–1608, Jul. 2015.

[16]      D. Marra, M. Sorrentino, A. Pohjoranta, C. Pianese, and J. Kiviaho, "A Lumped Dynamic Modelling Approach for Model-Based Control and Diagnosis of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell System with Anode Off-Gas Recycling," ECS Trans., vol. 68, no. 1, pp. 3095–3106, Jul. 2015.

[17]      M. Halinen, A. Pohjoranta, J. Pennanen, and J. Kiviaho, "Application of Multivariable Regression Model for SOFC Stack Temperature Estimation in System Environment," Fuel Cells, vol. 15, no. 5, pp. 749–756, Oct. 2015.

[18]      A. Pohjoranta, M. Halinen, J. Pennanen, and J. Kiviaho, "Solid oxide fuel cell stack temperature estimation with data-based modeling – Designed experiments and parameter identification," J. Power Sources, vol. 277, pp. 464–473, Mar. 2015.

[19]      A. Pohjoranta, M. Sorrentino, C. Pianese, F. Amatruda, and T. Hottinen, "Validation of Neural Network-based Fault Diagnosis for Multi-stack Fuel Cell Systems: Stack Voltage Deviation Detection," Energy Procedia, vol. 81, pp. 173–181, Dec. 2015.

[20]      P. Koski, L. C. Pérez, and J. Ihonen, "Comparing Anode Gas Recirculation with Hydrogen Purge and Bleed in a Novel PEMFC Laboratory Test Cell Configuration," Fuel Cells, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 494–504, Jun. 2015.

[21]      A. Pohjoranta, M. Halinen, J. Pennanen, and J. Kiviaho, "Model predictive control of the solid oxide fuel cell stack temperature with models based on experimental data," J. Power Sources, vol. 277, pp. 239–250, Mar. 2015.

[22]      T. M. Keränen et al., "A 50 kW PEMFC Pilot Plant Operated with Industry Grade Hydrogen - System Design and Site Integration," Fuel Cells, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 701–708, Oct. 2014.

[23]      L. C. Pérez, P. Koski, J. Ihonen, J. M. Sousa, and A. Mendes, "Effect of fuel utilization on the carbon monoxide poisoning dynamics of Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells," J. Power Sources, vol. 258, pp. 122–128, Jul. 2014.

[24]      K. Nikiforow, J. Ihonen, T. Keränen, H. Karimäki, and V. Alopaeus, "Modeling and experimental validation of H2 gas bubble humidifier for a 50 kW stationary PEMFC system," Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, vol. 39, no. 18, pp. 9768–9781, Jun. 2014.

[25]      M. Halinen, O. Thomann, and J. Kiviaho, "Experimental study of SOFC system heat-up without safety gases," Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 552–561, Jan. 2014.

[26]      M. Rautanen, O. Thomann, O. Himanen, J. Tallgren, and J. Kiviaho, "Glass coated compressible solid oxide fuel cell seals," J. Power Sources, vol. 247, pp. 243–248, Feb. 2014.

[27]      A. Pohjoranta, M. Halinen, J. Pennanen, and J. Kiviaho, "Multivariable Linear Regression for SOFC Stack Temperature Estimation under Degradation Effects," J. Electrochem. Soc., vol. 161, no. 4, pp. F425–F433, Feb. 2014.

[28]      O. Thomann et al., "Development and Application of HVOF Sprayed Spinel Protective Coating for SOFC Interconnects," J. Therm. Spray Technol., vol. 22, no. 5, pp. 631–639, Jan. 2013.

[29]      L. C. Pérez, T. Rajala, J. Ihonen, P. Koski, J. M. Sousa, and A. Mendes, "Development of a methodology to optimize the air bleed in PEMFC systems operating with low quality hydrogen," Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, vol. 38, no. 36, pp. 16286–16299, Dec. 2013.

[30]      V. Sarda et al., "Long Term Resistivity Behavior of SOFC Interconnect/Ni-Mesh/Anode Interfaces," ECS Trans., vol. 57, no. 1, pp. 2279–2288, Oct. 2013.

[31]      M. Rautanen, M. Halinen, M. Noponen, K. Koskela, H. Vesala, and J. Kiviaho, "Experimental Study of an SOFC Stack Operated With Autothermally Reformed Diesel Fuel," Fuel Cells, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 304–308, Apr. 2013.

[32]      J. R. Hoyes and M. Rautanen, "SOFC Sealing with Thermiculite 866 and Thermiculite 866 LS," ECS Trans., vol. 57, no. 1, pp. 2365–2374, Oct. 2013.

[33]      K. Nikiforow, H. Karimäki, T. M. Keränen, and J. Ihonen, "Optimization study of purge cycle in proton exchange membrane fuel cell system," J. Power Sources, vol. 238, pp. 336–344, Sep. 2013.

[34]      M. Halinen, A. Pohjoranta, J. Pennanen, and J. Kiviaho, "Stack Temperature Estimation in System Environment by Utilizing the Design of Experiments Methodology," ECS Trans., vol. 57, no. 1, pp. 205–214, Oct. 2013.

[35]      L. C. Pérez, J. Ihonen, J. M. Sousa, and A. Mendes, "Use of Segmented Cell Operated in Hydrogen Recirculation Mode to Detect Water Accumulation in PEMFC," Fuel Cells, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 203–216, Apr. 2013.

[36]      A. Arvay et al., "Characterization techniques for gas diffusion layers for proton exchange membrane fuel cells – A review," J. Power Sources, vol. 213, pp. 317–337, Sep. 2012.

[37]      M. Halinen, O. Thomann, and J. Kiviaho, "Effect of Anode off-gas Recycling on Reforming of Natural Gas for Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Systems," Fuel Cells, vol. 12, no. 5, pp. 754–760, Oct. 2012.

[38]      O. Thomann, M. Pihlatie, J. A. Schuler, O. Himanen, and J. Kiviaho, "Method for Measuring Chromium Evaporation from SOFC Balance-of-Plant Components," Electrochem. Solid-State Lett., vol. 15, no. 3, p. B35, Jan. 2012.

[39]      T. M. Keränen et al., "Development of integrated fuel cell hybrid power source for electric forklift," J. Power Sources, vol. 196, no. 21, pp. 9058–9068, Nov. 2011.

[40]      H. Karimäki, L. C. Pérez, K. Nikiforow, T. M. Keränen, J. Viitakangas, and J. Ihonen, "The use of on-line hydrogen sensor for studying inert gas effects and nitrogen crossover in PEMFC system," Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, vol. 36, no. 16, pp. 10179–10187, Aug. 2011.

[41]      S. Auvinen, T. Tingelöf, J. K. Ihonen, J. Siivinen, and M. Johansson, "Cost Effective In-Situ Characterization of Coatings for PEFC Bipolar Plates Demonstrated with PVD Deposited CrN," J. Electrochem. Soc., vol. 158, no. 5, p. B550, 2011.

[42]      M. Mikkola, T. Tingelöf, and J. K. Ihonen, "Modelling compression pressure distribution in fuel cell stacks," J. Power Sources, vol. 193, no. 1, pp. 269–275, Aug. 2009.

[43]      T. Tingelöf and J. K. Ihonen, "A rapid break-in procedure for PBI fuel cells," Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, vol. 34, no. 15, pp. 6452–6456, Aug. 2009.

[44]      M. Rautanen, O. Himanen, V. Saarinen, and J. Kiviaho, "Compression Properties and Leakage Tests of Mica-Based Seals for SOFC Stacks," Fuel Cells, vol. 9, no. 5, pp. 753–759, Oct. 2009.