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Air Products and FuelCell Energy to partner to market tri-generation stationary fuel cell power plants; industrial hydrogen users and vehicle refueling

15 March 2012

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Tri-generation stationary fuel cell power plant. Click to enlarge.

Air Products and FuelCell Energy, Inc. signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work toward the market development of stationary Direct FuelCell (DFC) power plants that simultaneously produce hydrogen, ultra-clean electricity and usable high quality heat. Target markets for these tri-generation stationary fuel cell power plants include industrial hydrogen users as well as vehicle fueling applications.

The initiative seeks to develop a market for tri-generation megawatt-class power plants around the world. Industrial users of hydrogen can utilize all three of the DFC revenue streams including hydrogen, electricity and heat. On-site or local production of hydrogen and electricity eliminates the delivery costs incurred by industrial companies while enhancing security and reliability of supply.

By combining our industry-leading fuel cell technology and expertise with the market reach, hydrogen processing, and distribution capabilities of Air Products, together we can create the hydrogen infrastructure with a solution that is ready today. Our stationary fuel cell power plants are quite versatile and this initiative represents what we expect to be an efficient and cost effective manner of providing on-site hydrogen production in an environmentally friendly manner.

—Chip Bottone, president and CEO, FuelCell Energy, Inc.

Distributed generation of hydrogen could help to enable hydrogen infrastructure development by producing hydrogen in locations convenient for end-uses such as vehicle fueling or industrial use. Fueling operations or neighboring facilities can utilize the ultra-clean electricity and high quality heat produced.

Air Products and FuelCell Energy are already working together on a three-year hydrogen production project in California, which began in 2011. Under subcontract to Air Products, FuelCell Energy is operating a DFC power plant at an Orange County Sanitation District wastewater treatment facility near Los Angeles. The project, funded in part by the United States Department of Energy, California Air Resources Board, South Coast Air Quality Management District, and also involving the National Fuel Cell Research Center at the University of California, Irvine, is providing renewable hydrogen for vehicle fueling along with ultra-clean electricity.

The power plant efficiently converts biogas generated from the wastewater treatment process into renewable hydrogen for a nearby vehicle fueling station operated by Air Products, as well as ultra-clean electricity used by the wastewater treatment facility.

FuelCell Energy manufactures stationary fuel cell power plants that provide continuous baseload power in a highly efficient and environmentally friendly process. DFC power plants are fuel flexible, using readily available fuel sources such as natural gas or renewable biogas. These fuels are converted to hydrogen by the fuel cell process. The electro-chemical power generation process does not utilize all of the hydrogen generated by the fuel cells so the excess hydrogen can be used to meet other demands such as vehicle fueling or industrial purposes. Due to the absence of combustion in the fuel cell power generation process, virtually no pollutants are emitted such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), or particulate matter, resulting in ultra-clean power generation.

Air Products, the leading global supplier of hydrogen to refineries to assist in the production of cleaner burning transportation fuels, has unique experience in the hydrogen fueling industry. These varied fueling applications provide an opportunity to assess consumer experiences, evaluate product performance and advance product improvements.

In certain market applications, fueling rates at several individual sites of more than 15,000 refills per year are occurring. The company has placed more than 130 hydrogen fueling stations in the United States and 19 countries worldwide. Cars, trucks, vans, buses, scooters, forklifts, locomotives, planes, cell towers, material handling equipment, and even submarines have been fueled with trend-setting technologies that involve Air Products’ know-how, equipment and hydrogen. Use of the company’s technology is increasing and currently exceeds 370,000 hydrogen fills per year.

March 15, 2012 in Fuel Cells, Hydrogen, Hydrogen Production, Infrastructure, Power Generation | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

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Yes cogeneration. No to fuel cells which are too expensive. Cogeneration installations could reduce Co2 production with no subsidies using turbines or engines and even combined cycle use gives near fuel cell efficiency at lower costs, but high efficiency of electric generation is not required for cogeneration to work if waste heat capture is efficient. Water heaters and standard boilers or furnaces have zero electrical efficiency and CARB should have outlawed them long before getting rid of 100 watt tungsten bulbs. ..HG..

'No to fuel cells which are too expensive.'

Do keep up! :-)
Fuel cell costs are dropping rapidly.

This is using a carbonate fuel cell to produce H2, which could be used by a PEM fuel cell. Neat in a way, but does it have any advantages over typical steam reformation (cost, efficiency, scalability)?

What is the point transforming biogas (CH4) into hydrogen (H2) and then incinerate instead of incinerating directly. Sounds stupid.

We don't have the information to do a close comparison.
They are promoting this though for its ability to get in close to where demand is whilst producing the power and hydrogen in a very non-polluting way so meeting for instance city ordinances.
I don't know enough about the normal process of reformation to provide a detailed critique, and in any case it is my understanding that there are a lot of possible pathways, but I believe that steam reformation is normally done at very large centralised locations.

The advantage of the MCFC appears to be that it produces electricity as a byproduct, and probably has flexibility in its product mix (anywhere from its specified production of hydrogen down to zero with output shifted to electric).

Is 'Catalytic carbon' real? http://www.virtual-strategy.com/2012/03/13/hydrogen-fuel-produced-lowest-cost-using-new-catalyst

@ Kelly , Thanks for the link to this article. I knew that hydrogen is almost free, non-polluting and available in endless quantity. With that discovery fuelcell cars trucks, machineries, tractor-trailer trucks, motorcycles, airplanes and ship will boom and replace ice engines, im eager to see that soon. We gonna forget gasoline and limp batteries at the same time.

MCFCs have been used for decades in banks and hospitals for non stop power. You can combine cycle the heat if you want more electricity.

In this case they are using CNG/H2 from landfill, biogass, biomass and other sources, just the methane from water treatment can run lots of stuff.

The idea of using waste heat for other processes is good. You could use the waste heat from this or any fuels or power plant to ferment and distill at a cellulose ethanol plant.

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