FuelCell Energy, Inc. has announced their participation in a research contract with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to evaluate the effectiveness of Direct FuelCells® (DFC®) to efficiently separate carbon dioxide from the emissions of industrial operations such as refineries, cement kilns and pulp and paper mills. These industrial operations generate flue gas, a waste product that contains CO2. The award from the EPA will fund initial testing of the ability for Direct FuelCells to consume flue gas instead of ambient air for the power generation process and their ability to cost effectively separate the CO2 within the flue gas.
Efficiently and effectively separating the CO2 enables sequestration, preventing the release of this greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Chris Bentley, Executive Vice President Government R&D Operations, FuelCell Energy, said that carbon capture is an important area of focus for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and their team is excited to be undertaking this leading edge research. The research under Phase I is expected to take up to six months. Successful results may lead to a demonstration project at an industrial site using a DFC power plant to provide ultra-clean electricity and usable heat for the industrial operation, while separating CO2 from the flue gas for sequestration. Capturing CO2 for sequestration is a potentially large global market.
FuelCell Energy is also participating in a contract with the U.S. Department of Energy to demonstrate advanced biogas desulfurization technology. Direct FuelCells can be fuelled by renewable biogas generated by industrial processes such as food processing, agriculture and wastewater treatment. However, the biogas contains a high level of sulfur that must be removed prior to being used as a fuel. The biogas demonstration projects will determine the market feasibility of a new high capacity, expendable sorbent developed by TDA Research, which efficiently removes sulfur from renewable biogas. If successful, the sorbent could reduce the cost of fuel cells operating on biogas, as it has an expected lifespan that is up to thirty times longer than the technology currently in use.
FuelCell Energy currently has 20 megawatts of DFC biogas power plants installed and in backlog. TDA Research, Inc., the prime contractor under this U.S. Department of Energy program, developed the sorbents for the projects, which will be demonstrated at a wastewater treatment facility and a family-owned dairy farm, both located in California. The demonstration projects are expected to last 18 months. www.fce.com