Fuel cell technology from SFC Energy

This is how the SFC fuel cell works

SFC Energy AG is a leading supplier of hydrogen and direct methanol fuel cells for stationary and mobile hybrid power solutions. With over 65,000 fuel cells sold worldwide so far, we are a sustainably profitable fuel cell producer. With continuous investments in research and development, we are always working to further expand our technology leadership for mobile and off-grid energy solutions. Our fuel cells are ‘made in Germany’ and are developed and produced at our headquarters in Brunnthal near Munich.

Fuel cell technology by SFC Energy

How the Methanol fuel cell works

Extraordinarily environmentally friendly

SFC fuel cells charge batteries completely automatically due to the integrated charge controller, which permanently monitors the state of charge of the battery. The fuel cell only starts up when needed and switches off again when the battery is fully charged. This means that the user always has full power reserves, and also a significantly longer lifetime for his batteries, as the continuous charging prevents deep discharge. 230 V devices can also be operated via an inverter.

SFC fuel cells are based on DMFC (Direct Methanol Fuel Cell) technology. They generate power from the fuel in the fuel cartridge (methanol), complemented by oxygen from the air. Methanol is directly converted into power. In addition to power, the only emissions are waste heat and water vapor as well as a little carbon dioxide. This is extraordinarily environmentally friendly.

SFC fuel cartridges

The fuel offers significant advantages for mobile and portable applications because the liquid alcohol methanol can be transported safely and effortlessly in the practical SFC fuel cartridges in use.

To the SFC fuel cartridges


According to the CLP Regulation, methanol is categorised as a poisonous and easily flammable substance. For further information, please see the Safety data sheets in our downloads.

The power generating principle
of SFC fuel cells

SFC fuel cells convert chemical energy into electrical energy without interim stages and without much loss of efficiency. That is why it is such an efficient power generator. The innovative and patented developments of the SFC fuel cells enable a miniaturised set-up, high performance, a long service life and a low weight. Using the technology developed in-house, SFC has acquired a unique technological and competitive edge in the field of fuel cell systems for off-grid equipment with its fuel cells.

The hybrid principle
of SFC fuel cells

Of course, SFC fuel cells also work together with other power generators, e.g. in combination with solar modules they only switch on when the solar module cannot supply enough power due to bad weather or during the night.

The principle of water recovery

The stack is the power-generating core of the SFC fuel cells. It consists of individual cells, each composed of an anode, a cathode and a membrane. The membrane, as an electrolyte, separates anode from cathode. Positively charged, electric particles, so-called protons, can diffuse through the membrane. On the side of the anode, water and methanol are added, on the side of the cathode, oxygen is taken from the ambient air. In the reaction on the anode, H+ ions and free electrons are created, as well as the reaction product carbon dioxide (CO2). The protons can cross the membrane. The electrons, however, have to travel to the cathode side via a connected electric circuit during which they generate power. On the cathode, the H+ ions, the oxygen from the air and the electrons are converted into water vapour. SFC fuel cells are therefore very environmentally friendly.

Questions and answers about

What is a fuel cell?

A fuel cell is a galvanic cell that converts the chemical reaction energy of a continuously supplied fuel and oxidant into electrical energy. The underlying principle is an electrochemical process that is also called “cold combustion”. In a way, it’s the reverse of electrolysis. A fuel cell does not store energy but is a converter that generates power. The energy for power production is supplied by the fuel.

Across which temperature range does the fuel cell work?

We guarantee safe operation in ambient temperatures between: -20°C to +50°C.
If you require an energy supply in more extreme conditions, please contact us.


Does the exhaust gas really consist of just water and CO2?

There may also be residual components of methanol or methanol degradation products in the exhaust gas. The quantities and concentrations are below the legal limits. ATTENTION: Always direct the exhaust gas outside. Inhaling exhaust gas or drinking the water will harm your health. The exhaust gas does not contain CO (carbon monoxide) or NOx (nitrogen oxide).

Can I operate SFC fuel cells in hybrid mode with a solar panel too?

Yes, a lot of our users do this. The fuel cell turns itself on automatically when there is not sufficient sun for the solar energy system to function.

Which waste heat is generated during the power generation?

The electrochemical process only generates a very low waste heat of about 40° C.

Which safety standards do SFC fuel cells meet?

SFC fuel cells comply with the strictest safety and quality requirements including those regulations that are relevant for installation in vehicles. They are the first fuel cells in the world to bear the ECE-R10 (Installation and Operation in Motor Vehicles), CE and “Safety-tested, production-monitored fuel cell system” certifications by TÜV Süd. They are also tested according to MIL-STD (military standards).

Is there a risk that the batteries will deep discharge?

No, as long as a fuel cartridge is connected to the SFC fuel cell, the integrated deep discharge protection is triggered and turns itself on, even in the operating mode “Off”, to protect the battery from a deep discharge. An additional deep discharge protection has to be independently integrated between consumer and battery.

What kind of batteries can be charged using the SFC fuel cells?

SFC fuel cells charge batteries completely automatically. They are compatible with military batteries such as the BB-2590. Our sales team will be happy to assist you if you have questions about compatibility.