Another First for a Connecticut Fuel Cell Maker

Running on biogas from a water treatment plant, an array will produce carbon-free electricity

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Another First for a Connecticut Fuel Cell Maker

Several years ago, Fuel Cell Energy of Danbury, Conn., got our attention with news it would supply South Korea's leading independent power producer with 25.6 MW of fuel cell power plants over a ten year period. Now Fuel Cell Energy is getting our attention again, with a press release this week announcing it will install a 2.8 MW fuel cell plant at a water treatment facility in San Bernardino County, California, where the generating plant will run on biogas from the facility and produce electricity without emitting a significant amount of carbon or much in the way of pollutants (photo, above).

The fuel cell plant, from Fuel Cell Energy's DFC3000 line, is being sold to project developer and investor Anaergia, a renewable-energy-from-waste company in Burlington, Ontario,  which will sell power and heat from the plant to California's Inland Empire Utilities Agency, under a 20-year purchase agreement. The agency is not allowed to emit the biogas generated in water treatment directly into the atmosphere, and flaring it would release carbon dioxide and pollutants. So using the biogas as the feedstock for a fuel cell array is a very nearly ideal solution, from an environmental point of view.

This approach to handling biogas from water treatment helps California meet its renewable portfolio standards and qualifies the project for certain financial advantages, as a public-private enterprise.

This isn't all from Fuel Cell Energy. Today, the company announced that plans are being finalized for a 58. 8 MW fuel cell power plant in South Korea, which will be the world’s largest stationary fuel cell generating facility; it will “utilize ultra-clean and efficient fuel cell power plants sold by POSCO Energy [Fuel Cell Energy's utility partner in Korea],  based on [the Connecticut company's] designs and fuel cell components." Yesterday the company said it would be entering the second phase of a carbon-capture-and-sequestration project, as part of a U.S. Department of Energy program.

In the project, says a company press release, "the exhaust of a coal fired plant is directed to the air intake of a DFC power plant, which separates and concentrates the CO2 in the exhaust for commercial use or sequestration. Another side reaction that occurs when the fuel cell is used in this application is the destruction of some of the nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in coal plant streams as the exhaust passes through the fuel cell. This reduces the cost of NOx removal equipment for coal-fired power plant operators."

It is all good news for Fuel Cell Energy and for the future of power producing stationary fuels cells generally.

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