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FuelCell Energy receives $2.8M continuation of DOE award for tri-generation Direct FuelCell power plant

7 March 2014

FuelCell Energy, Inc. announced a $2.8-million continuation of an award from the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office to showcase the tri-generation capabilities of a Direct FuelCell (DFC) power plant for industrial applications.

FuelCell Energy will install a sub-megawatt carbonate fuel cell power plant at its manufacturing facility in Torrington, Connecticut, to generate hydrogen, electricity and heat, replacing hydrogen that is currently purchased and delivered to the facility via truck, and replacing electricity purchased from the electric grid. The tri-generation DFC-H2s expected to be operational by the end of 2014.

Hydrogen at the plant is used as an oxidation preservative in the manufacturing process; the heat will contribute to facility heating, while the baseload electricity will support production.

This DFC-H2 installation can generate about 135 kilograms of hydrogen per day which generally meets the daily requirements of many industrial hydrogen users. Once commercially available, the production cost of the hydrogen from DFC plants is expected to be competitively priced within a range of $5 to $7 per kilogram or even lower with increased production volumes. On-site hydrogen generation from DFC plants avoids the costs and pollutants associated with transportation while enhancing the reliability of supply.

The objective of this project is to demonstrate the technology and system that will enable market development for distributed hydrogen used for industrial purposes, delivered efficiently, cleanly and in an economically compelling manner by our existing technology.

In addition to offering ultra-clean electricity and usable high quality heat, this fuel cell installation will provide reliable on-site hydrogen production that has the potential to reduce costs associated with purchasing, transporting and storing hydrogen. We estimate a potential market size of $1.6 billion for our tri-generation DFC-H2 fuel cell power plants serving the industrial and mobility markets in the United States alone.

—Chip Bottone, President and CEO

While this industrial application is the first of its kind, a DFC-H2 project has been operating for over two years, converting renewable biogas from the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) in Fountain Valley, California into renewable hydrogen for vehicle fueling as well as ultra-clean electricity. This installation generates 250 kilowatts of power which is enough to power about 250 average size homes and provide renewable hydrogen that can fuel approximately 25 vehicles per day.

FuelCell Energy power plants provide combined heat and power (CHP) capabilities by providing both high quality baseload power and thermal energy from a single fuel source. For this project, FuelCell Energy will configure the stationary fuel cell power plant to also produce and distribute useable hydrogen, making it a tri-generation system, or CHHP, and a valuable on-site resource for industrial applications.

The DFC stationary fuel cell power plants manufactured by FuelCell Energy utilize carbonate fuel cell technology and provide continuous baseload power located where the power is used, including both on-site applications and electric grid support. The power plants are fuel flexible, capable of operating on natural gas, on-site renewable biogas, or directed biogas.

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