DANBURY, Conn., Aug. 16, 2001 – FuelCell Energy, Inc. reached a significant milestone by commencing operations of a DFC/T à¢â€ž- power plant based on a 250 kW Direct FuelCell® integrated with a Capstone Turbine Corporation modified Model 330 Microturbine.
The combined system does not require any combustion in the turbine. The first-of-a-kind test of the high-efficiency DFC/T à¢â€ž- power plant is being funded by the U.S. Department of Energy through its Office of Fossil Energy. The cooperative agreement is managed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) as part of the DOE’s Vision 21 program.
An objective of the Vision 21 Program is to develop power plants that would generate electricity with net efficiencies approaching 75 percent (with natural gas), while producing sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions of less than 0.01 lb/million BTU. These goals are significant improvements over conventional power plants, which are 35-60 percent efficient and produce emissions of 0.07 to 0.3 lb/million BTU of sulfur and nitrogen oxides. The nitrogen oxide and sulfur emissions from the DFC/T system are anticipated to be better than the Vision 21 goals due to the non-combustion features of the DFC/T power plant. The expected high efficiency of the DFC/T will also result in a 40 – 50 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions compared to conventional power plants.
The DFC/T power plant is based on FuelCell Energy’s innovative design for ultra high efficiency systems. At the core of this power plant design is the Company’s commercial DFC fuel cell technology. The system extends the potential fuel savings and positive environmental attributes of the DFC by combining a non-fired gas turbine and a network of heat exchangers, resulting in extra electricity and adding significantly to the already high efficiency of the DFC. Features of the DFC/T system include: high efficiency, minimal emissions, simplicity in design, direct reforming internal to the fuel cell, no pressurization of the fuel cell, independent operating pressure of the fuel cell and turbine, and potential cost competitiveness with existing combined cycle power plants at much smaller sizes.
The DFC/T power plant began operating July 31, 2001, and the test program is expected to last several months. The power plant is designed to operate in a dual mode: as a standalone fuel cell system or in combination with the microturbine. Instead of fuel, heat generated by the fuel cell is used to drive the modified Capstone Microturbine to generate additional electricity. This proof-of-concept demonstration will provide information to design a 40 MW DFC/T power plant that can approach the 75 percent efficiency goal as specified by the Vision 21 program, as well as serve as a platform for a high efficiency DFC/T in smaller sizes for retail power applications.
“The commencement of operation of this 250 kW fuel cell and microturbine demonstration is very exciting for us,” said Jerry D. Leitman, president and CEO of FuelCell Energy. “Such a high efficiency, low-emission system represents a potentially powerful addition to our product line and opens up another innovative choice for high efficiency generation of both retail and wholesale power.”
“We are pleased at the progress of this joint project and believe there is great potential in very high efficiency fuel cell/microturbine systems. This project takes advantage of the ultra-low emissions of both technologies and is an important milestone toward commercially viable fuel cell/turbine products,” said Dr. Ake Almgren, president and CEO of Capstone Turbine.
“Our Vision 21 program aims to integrate multiple advanced technologies in order to create systems that achieve breakthrough improvements in performance and cost. Fuel cell – turbine integration is a key part of that strategy,” said NETL fuel cells product manager, Dr. Mark Williams. ” The data and the experience gained in start up, transient and continuous operation of the power plant will be incorporated into the conceptual design of larger MW-scale power plants suitable for inclusion in a Vision 21 system.”
About Direct FuelCells
Direct FuelCells® (DFC®) generate electricity with no combustion. They are, in-effect, like large continuously operating batteries that generate electricity as long as fuel, such as natural gas, is supplied. Since the fuel is not burned, there is no pollution commonly associated with the combustion of fossil fuels. Also, the high efficiency leads to more electric power from less fuel and with less carbon dioxide emissions. DFC technology eliminates external fuel processing to extract hydrogen from a hydrocarbon fuel. This results in a product whose cost, combined with high efficiency, simplicity and reliability, results in product advantages for stationary power generation.
About FuelCell Energy, Inc.
FuelCell Energy, Inc. (www.fuelcellenergy.com), based in Danbury, Connecticut, is a world-recognized leader for development and commercialization of high efficiency fuel cells for electric power generation. The Company has been developing DFC technology for stationary power plants with the U.S. Department of Energy through the National Energy Technology Laboratory, whose advanced fuel cell research program is focused on developing a new generation of high performance fuel cells that can generate clean electricity at power stations or in distributed locations near the customer, including hospitals, schools, data centers and other commercial and industrial applications.