The US Department of Defense’s (DoD) Engineer Research and Development Center - Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC-CERL) has awarded FuelCell Energy approximately $1.5 million to continue development of its electrochemical hydrogen separator (EHS). (Earlier post.) The EHS system separates pure hydrogen that can be used for industrial and transportation applications from gas internally generated in FuelCell Energy’s molten carbonate Direct Fuel Cell systems.
The EHS research contributes to the development of FuelCell Energy’s DFC-H2 product. The DFC-H2 integrates an EHS system with the company’s Direct FuelCell (DFC) power plant to produce electricity, heat and pure hydrogen. A DFC300 combined with an EHS would produce 300 kW of power, heat for combined heat and power applications, and up to 300 lbs. (136 kg) per day of hydrogen. If successful, this combination may produce hydrogen more economically than other methods.
Conventional methods of separating hydrogen rely on a complex separation step using mechanical compression. FuelCell Energy’s proprietary EHS technology has no moving parts and does not use compression, potentially offering higher reliability and efficiency, resulting in the need for only half the energy compared to conventional compression methods of producing hydrogen.
The $1.5 million ERDC-CERL program will span twenty months and will support the scale-up of the EHS technology and establish readiness for a field demonstration.
FuelCell Energy’s DFC fuel cells are generating power at more than 55 locations worldwide. The plants have generated more than 340 million kWh of power using a variety of fuels including renewable wastewater gas, biogas from beer and food processing, as well as natural gas and other hydrocarbon fuels.
The DFC stationary power plants use biofuels and fossil fuels more efficiently than the electric grid and other distributed generation their size. Their high efficiency results in low CO2 and, because they produce power without combustion, they produce near-zero nitrous oxides, sulfur oxides, and particulate matter.