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Producing Hydrogen From Fuel Cell Power Plants


QuestAir and FuelCell Energy are working on a preliminary design and economic analysis of a system including QuestAir’s commercial hydrogen purification products to produce pure hydrogen from the anode exhaust of a Fuel Cell Energy’s Direct Fuel Cell (DFC) power plant.

Direct Fuel Cell power plants equipped with this hydrogen export system could be used by FuelCell Energy’s customers to produce pure hydrogen for industrial uses or to fuel fleets of fuel cell vehicles, in addition to generating electrical power and heat from the fuel cell.

Fuel Cell Energy is a leader in the development and manufacture of high-temperature fuel cells for electric power generation, with some 3 dozen installations of its DFC power plants worldwide.

The current generation of DFCs are carbonate fuel cells; Fuel Cell Energy is exploring the use of solid oxide technology for smaller size units in the future. This is not the same type of fuel cell as the PEM used in an automobile, which is smaller, runs at lower temperatures, produces less power and requires an external supply of hydrogen.

The DFC takes in methane (or variant) as a fuel, and reforms the gas internally to produce the hydrogen required for use in the fuel cell reaction. During normal operation, the fuel cell itself only consumers some 70%–80% of the hydrogen feed, leaving 20%–30% available for export. The hydrogen would first need to be cooled, pressurized and purified prior to external use, but that’s where QuestAir comes in.

The amount of hydrogen produced can be increased by adding additional fuel to the system and maximizing heat recovery. Projected hydrogen yields from the DFC-H2 units are 3.8 kg/hr from a 250 kW DFC and 15.1 kg/hr from a 1,000 kW plant.

Fuel Cell Energy trials found that the system offers:

  • Power Efficiency (Gross Power/Fuel) of 57.8%

  • Hydrogen Efficiency of 64.4% ((Hydrogen - Purification Power) / Hydrogen)

  • Overall system efficiency ((Net Power +Hydrogen) / Fuel)) of 59.3%

Fuel Cell Type
Polymer Electrolyte MembraneCarbonate Direct Fuel Cell
Electrolyte Ion Exchange Membrane Alkali Carbonate
Operating Temp. ºF 200 1,200
Charge Carrier H+ CO3=
Cell Hardware Carbon/Metal Based Stainless Steel
Catalyst Platinum Nickel



richard schumacher

Waitaminit: 20% to 30% of the hydrogen evolved inside their methane fuel cell is wasted? Is that typical for methane fuel cells? That sucks; it significantly reduces efficiency and releases a potent greenhouse gas.

William Thompson

The Mars project has made it clear that it is not difficult to add the left over hydrogen and carbon dioxide together to make either ethanol(RWGS and Fischer Tropisch, which proceeds very efficiently without all that compressing, and cooling) or benzene and toluene(the main ingredients of gasoline). While this kind of recycling of CO2 would not fix the greenhouse gas problem it certainly would go a long way toward helping to signficantly reduce it.
William Thompson

Paul Whybrew

Dear Sir. Alternative power. I have seen your news by William Thompson. I am very interested in the work you do and would like to help. I would also like the opportunity to drive/test such a vehicle. I live in Maidstone and I am an electrician. Paul Whybrew.

Paul Whybrew

The oil companies have many patents on many designs and inventions that could be developed in order to replace oil and the need to refine fuel from it. The time has come for the public to stop paying out more and more on the ever increasing price of oil and tax just to get from A to B. Soon, a system will be available, that will be inexpensive, friendly to the environment, and free from money grabbing operators and governments. Paul Whybrew. Maidstone. Former lecturer at The Engineering Academy Carshalton College. Any imput into this idea will be greatly appreciated. [email protected]

paul whybrew

News update. In order to progress on a replacement power source for vehicles I am looking for those who know anything about the wireless transfer of power. This process involves strategically placed inductive and reactive coils in order to transfer electro motive force from one to another. This system would take away the need to carry heavy equipment on the vehicle. There will be the need to carry a back up power source. I am now working on projects within the rail industry and will keep you posted as developments arise. My email is [email protected]. Former Lecturer at The Engineering Academy, Carshalton College. Surrey.

paul whybrew

11th December 2007. Allthough we have alternative fuel soureces for the propulsion of vehicles it is yet to become a viable and practical replacement on an overal basis. The most common being the duel system, petrol motor and electric. The batterises are charged while in motion. There are various gas methods but all have advantages and disadvantages. Some methods using Natural gas have a very low energy density and have to be stored at high pressure. The weight and strength of the tanks is a factor. The ratio of Km/litres is constantly evaluated as new technology is discovered. I am now collecting other ideas on this and shall evaluate over the next few months. Paul Whybrew. Maidstone. Former Lecturer Engineering Acadamy Carshalton College.

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