FuelCell enters Phase II of carbon capture project for coal-fired power

Source: FuelCell Energy, Inc.

FuelCell Energy, Inc. (Nasdaq: FCEL) announced that it will enter Phase II of the carbon capture development project under the previously announced award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy's Carbon Capture Program  implemented by the National Energy Technology Laboratory. FuelCell Energy will continue research that evaluates the use of Direct FuelCells® (DFC) to efficiently and cost effectively separate carbon dioxide (CO2) from the emissions of coal-fired power plants.

This three and a half year research project that began in late 2011 involves system design, cost analysis, and long-term testing of a DFC stack, with funding occurring in stages upon reaching certain progress milestones. Approximately $0.8 million from the total DOE award of $3 million was authorized to continue the development of the carbon capture system development based on DFC technology. This funding authorization follows favorable results achieved from the technology and economic analysis conducted in the initial stage of research.

"The potential for efficient and cost effective carbon capture from our Direct FuelCell power plants illustrates the versatility of our technology," said Chip Bottone, President and Chief Executive Officer, FuelCell Energy, Inc. "This award enables us to further advance and refine our research as we pursue this opportunity that has the potential to favorably impact public health while providing FuelCell Energy with the possibility of a new and potentially large market opportunity."

FuelCell Energy's DFC technology separates and concentrates CO2 as a side reaction during the power generation process. In this application of the technology, 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. Since DFC power plants produce power efficiently and with virtually zero emissions, the net result is a very attractive solution to prevent the release of green-house gases by coal-fired power plants while simultaneously increasing the net efficiency and power output of the plant. Additional benefits include reduction of the operating cost related to removal of NOx and reduction in water usage as existing carbon capture technologies are water intensive.

Conventional technologies used for the capture of CO2 from the emissions of coal fired power plants are energy-intensive with high operating costs. Most of the existing carbon capture technologies penalize the power plant output by as much as 30 percent. For these reasons, the DOE's Carbon Capture Program seeks advanced technologies that reduce the cost and energy requirements for the capture of CO2 from coal fired power plants. DFC power plants potentially represent an efficient and cost effective approach to separating CO2 while generating ultra-clean power rather than consuming power.

Partners in the project include Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, Washington and URS Corporation, Austin, Texas.

With the recent emphasis by DOE on Carbon Capture, Use and Sequestration, DFC based carbon capture plants could provide a compelling solution for applications such as Enhanced Oil Recovery where both power and carbon dioxide command premium prices.

DFC power plants excel at solving energy, environmental and business problems by providing ultra clean, efficient and reliable distributed power generation solutions. Direct FuelCells combine a fuel such as natural gas or renewable biogas with oxygen from the ambient air to efficiently produce ultra-clean electricity and usable high quality heat through an electrochemical process. DFC power plants emit virtually no pollutants due to the absence of combustion.

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