Southern Company Station to Host Test of Fuel Cell Carbon Capture Tech

By Editors of Power Engineering

The James M. Barry Electric Generating Station, a 2.7-GW coal and gas-fired power plant operated by Southern Company, will host a test of new fuel cell carbon capture technology.

The new technology is being developed jointly by FuelCell Energy Inc. and ExxonMobil.

Both companies have developed carbonate fuel cells that generate power as they concentrate and capture carbon dioxide streams from power plants. The technology has the potential to reduce costs and lead to a more economical method of large-scale carbon capture.

“The fuel cell carbon capture solution we are advancing with ExxonMobil could be a game-changer in affordably reducing carbon dioxide emissions from coal and gas-fired power plants globally,” said Chip Bottone, president and chief executive officer of FuelCell Energy, Inc. “The carbonate fuel cell solution uses a proven global platform to generate power while capturing carbon dioxide.”

Typically carbon capture processes consume energy.

The pilot plant tests will use FuelCell Energy’s commercial DFC3000® carbonate fuel cell power system to concentrate and capture a portion of the carbon dioxide emissions from the power plant as part of the fuel cells’ power generation process.

Flue gas from power generation will be directed into the fuel cells’ air intake system where it is combined with natural gas. The fuel cells concentrate and capture carbon dioxide and also eliminate about 70 percent of smog-producing nitrogen oxide from coal, supporting federal and local clean air initiatives.

Following capture, carbon dioxide will be compressed and cooled utilizing standard chilling equipment. Installation of the fuel cell plant will begin after completion of engineering studies that are already under way.

Results from the natural gas pilot test will help guide engineering studies for potential construction of a standalone pilot plant to test the technology at a larger scale, under FuelCell Energy’s existing agreement with ExxonMobil.

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