Littleton, CO, Mar. 7, 2006 — Versa Power Systems Inc., a developer of solid-oxide fuel cells (SOFC), announced that it will provide the core fuel cell technology for a new U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) project to develop a clean, multi-megawatt coal-fueled power plant.
The 10-year, three-phase fuel cell coal-based system program award, valued at approximately $85 million is subject to negotiation of a final agreement.
The program’s goal is to develop a large scale solid oxide fuel cell turbine (SOFC/T) power system of 100 megawatts and larger, permitting an overall efficiency of at least 50 percent in converting coal to grid electrical power.
This compares to today’s average U.S. coal-based power plant reaching an electrical efficiency of approximately 35 percent. In addition, the program seeks to capture 90 percent or more of system’s carbon dioxide emissions and meet a cost target of $400 per kilowatt (exclusive of coal gasification and carbon dioxide separation subsystems).
“Coal technology development is a keystone of the President’s new Advanced Energy Initiative,” said Wayne Surdoval, DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory’s Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) technology manager.
Versa Power, a development stage corporation, focuses on planar solid oxide fuel cell power systems. The company previously teamed with FuelCell Energy Inc. to win a DOE SECA contract to develop a 5-10 kW system fueled with natural gas. Tests of the first prototype of that system have now exceeded 2,000 hours under Phase I of that project.
“Being part of this new DOE program will enable us to begin scale-up of our 5 to 10 kilowatt SOFC stack that has demonstrated successful performance under the SECA program,” said Robert Stokes, Versa Power’s president and CEO.
FuelCell Energy will be responsible for the overall systems development of the coal-based multi-megawatt SOFC/T power plant. Versa Power will provide SOFC stack technology development; Gas Technology Institute (GTI) will provide pressurized testing of fuel cells; and Nexant will bring coal gasification expertise to the project.
The objective of Phase I, a 3 year, $10.5 million program, is to focus on the design, cost analysis, fabrication and testing of large scale SOFC stacks amenable for incorporation into 100 megawatt systems.
Phases II and III will focus on fabricating and aggregating larger SOFC systems, as well as “proof-of-concept” systems to be field tested for a minimum of 25,000 hours.
Fuel cells do not rely upon combustion, enabling them to produce affordable, highly efficient and environmentally friendly electricity from coal. Advances made under the Fuel Cell Coal-Based Systems program are expected to become key enabling technologies for FutureGen, a planned DOE demonstration of advanced power systems that emit near-zero emissions, have double today’s electric generating efficiency, co-produce hydrogen and sequester carbon dioxide.
The FuelCell Energy/Versa team joins two other project teams — one led by General Electric Hybrid Power Generation Systems and the other by Siemens Power Generation Inc. — to leverage knowledge gained in the DOE’s Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) Program, and extend coal-based SOFC technology to large central power generation stations.