The D2Service project aimed at simplifying fuel cell systems for both residential and commercial applications with respect to easy, fast and save system service and maintenance. The primary objective was to significantly reduce costs and labour for maintenance work to promote the distribution of energy-efficient fuel cell-based micro-CHP, supplemental power and backup power technology throughout Europe.

Fuel cells are a very efficient technology for generating electricity from natural gas or hydrogen, featuring high efficiencies and low pollutant and noise emissions. When used in µCHP units in building energy systems, a part of the waste heat from the electricity generation can be recovered and used to supply heat to the building. Another application is back-up power in case of power outages, where fuel cell-based systems efficiently and reliably provide clean electricity. Fuel cell appliances can thus make a valuable contribution to a cleaner energy supply.

As high-tech devices, these types of systems currently still require specially trained technicians for maintenance work and often non-standard components. In case of system failure, a specialist might have to travel a long distance to check and possibly repair a unit, which in turn is not producing energy during this time, leading to unnecessary high operational costs.

The project therefore focussed on the following aspects:

- System layout improvement for easier maintenance and components exchange, allowing for shorter service times.

- Individual component improvement and standardisation for easier replacement and increased durability, reducing service frequency.

- Remote monitoring improvement for earlier failure detection and avoidance of expensive service visits.

- Development of manual design guidelines to allow non-specialised technicians to perform routine service tasks.

A consortium of project partners from four European countries jointly worked on these aspects. Two different fuel-cell technologies – PEMFC and SOFC –were employed in different systems being improved in the project. In all addressed aspect concerning service, the project achieved significant improvements in term of reduction of service effort, service time, component and system durability, and service task complexity to enable non-specialised technicians to do elementary service work. The improvements have been tested and verified in a field trial on in total six systems.