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Air Products and FuelCell Energy Begin Construction of Integrated Hydrogen Energy Station

The HES concept. Click to enlarge.

Air Products, a leader in hydrogen fueling station technology and the world’s largest producer of hydrogen, and FuelCell Energy, Inc., a manufacturer of stationary fuel-cell power systems, have together begun construction of a demonstration hydrogen energy station capable of providing low-cost hydrogen, electric power and heat from one integrated unit.

The tri-generation system (hydrogen, electricity and heat) is designed to operate on renewable fuel sources, such as anaerobic digester gas from industrial or municipal wastewater treatment facilities, as well as readily available fuels, including natural gas and propane.

The overall cost of on-site generation of hydrogen via this process has the potential to be lower than other currently available production options.

The new system will combine FuelCell Energy’s molten carbonate fuel cell (DFC-300) with Air Products’ advanced gas separation technologies. Current process projections put the electrical efficiency at 49%.

The direct fuel cell (DFC) technology is based on internal reforming of fuels inside the fuel cell, integrating the synergistic benefits of the endothermic reforming reaction with the exothermic fuel cell reaction.

Heat generated in the fuel cell drives the reforming process, simultaneously cooling the stack. Steam produced in the anode reaction helps to drive the reforming reaction forward. Hydrogen produced in the reforming reaction is used directly in the anode reaction, which further enhances the reforming reaction.

The baseline electric DFC is designed to operate at 75% fuel utilization in the stack. The remaining 25% offers a possible source for low-cost hydrogen, if it can be recovered from its low-pressure, high-temperature, dilute form (< 15% hydrogen by volume)—the role of the Air Products system.

The system is designed to produce more than 250 kilowatts (kW) of power and more than 135 kilograms (about 300 pounds) of hydrogen per day. The system could provide hydrogen for smaller industrial users who routinely purchase liquid or gaseous hydrogen that currently must be delivered by truck. The DFC system could also be equipped to provide daily hydrogen fueling for approximately 35 fuel cell vehicles.

The project originally received funding in 2001, and the companies completed the design phase of the DOE project in 2006. System construction is expected to be complete in 2007. The unit will be tested at FuelCell Energy and shipped to Air Products for subsequent field demonstrations. Several locations are being evaluated for the field test, which is scheduled to occur before the end of 2008.

Integrated Hydrogen Energy Station
Performance Projections
UnitsPhase IPhase II
Overall efficiency
(Net power + H2 product)/(Fuel)
LHV 60% 66%
Power Efficiency
(Net power)/(Total Fuel - H2 Product)
LHV 49% 49%
Hydrogen Efficiency
(H2 Product - Purification Power)/(H2 Product)
LHV 68% 77%
Hydrogen Product Nm3/hr ~40 ~80
Net Power without H2 kW ~247 ~300
Net Power with H2 kW ~207 ~243
Natural Gas Flow Nm3/hr ~55 ~74

Globally, Air Products has placed more than 65 fueling stations on stream in 12 countries, most recently for mass transit fueling in Beijing, China for buses to be used to shuttle athletes and visitors for the 2008 Olympic Games.




WOW!!! These guys have created the perpetual motion machine. They can use the electricity to make more H2, then use the H2 to make more electricity and heat! Why didn't I think of that! [/sarcasm]


Ummm... the electricity, and H2 are coming from something, it's not just an endless loop, it's just that they're getting it from a renewable resource as opposed to natural gas. If you consider that a perpetual motion machine then so is coal. They can use the electricity from that to power the plant!!! then use the plant to make more electricity, and power the plant with it!
good try.

Joep Fruman

So , why don't we use these renewable sources to create electricity ? We already have a power grid, right ? Than we could skip the whole new infrastructure and also refuelling stations, if we start to drive EV's. I wonder what the energy efficiency would be then ?!

Of course big oil & state wants this controllable - partly new / partly old -infrastructure based on hydrogen. Looks very familiar to something we have right now (including the the same distribution of power and wealth). J

John Baldwin

Or, just run vehicles on natural gas made in the Anaerobic Digesters at the waste plant. This is a very simple, low cost solution, one that the market is chosing - compressed bio-methane is taking off big time in Germansy, Sweden, Switzerland, France etc. Its also the best solution on a 'well to wheel' CO2 emissions basis, requiring NO FOSSIL FUEL AT ALL>

Take a look at what is happening in Lille:

This is a truly sustainable outcome.


"So , why don't we use these renewable sources to create electricity?"

Thats exactly what they are doing. I think they are saying that since the electricity process is not close to 100% conversion efficiency, they are able to capture what would otherwise be wasted H2, and turn it into something usable.


I like the delivery system for EVs and NG. I can charge and/or refill my car in my garage overnight. I do not have to stop at filling stations or dodge gasoline tanker trucks out on the roads. There are fewer refineries and tankers to explode and leak. All the way around it seems like a winner for everyone but the oil companies. I know people will say that natural gas would have to be brought in by LNG tankers , but that may not be necessary. SNG made from biomass is CO2 neutral and can be delivered by the same natural gas pipelines that we use now.


An interesting thing would be domestic microgeneration for electricity and heat during winter (when you need more heat). Then in summer, you turn it off and go "on grid". You could use domestic natural gas for this. The power company would have to allow it, however, and there might be issues with generation efficiency for a small variable load.
Or, you could kick it on when you had larger loads and stay on grid all year, and use the waste heat for hot water.
If the utilities won't build co-generation plants, build them yourself.


You can use waste heat for heating AND cooling with absorption AC. Whether it is a fuel cell or turbine creating the electricity the rejected heat can be used. CHP (combined heat and power) systems are very good at bringing overall efficiency up and they lighten the load on the grid as well, extending the life and service intervals for transformers and other power transmission gear.

Cheryl Ho

DME is having developments in China today:Since DME has an advantage of decomposition at lower temperature than methane and LPG, R&D for hydrogen source for fuel cell has been carried out.

If you would like to know more on the latest DME developments, join us at upcoming North Asia DME / Methanol conference in Beijing, 27-28 June 2007, St Regis Hotel. The conference covers key areas which include:

DME productivity can be much higher especially if
country energy policies makes an effort comparable to
that invested in increasing supply.
National Development Reform Commission NDRC
Ministry of Energy for Mongolia

Production of DME/ Methanol through biomass
gasification could potentially be commercialized
Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and
will be sharing their experience.

Advances in conversion technologies are readily
available and offer exciting potential of DME as a
chemical feedstock
By: Kogas, Lurgi and Haldor Topsoe

Available project finance supports the investments
that DME/ Methanol can play a large energy supply role
By: International Finance Corporation

For more information:

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