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ExxonMobil to build CCS pilot plant with FuelCell Energy using carbonate fuel cell technology

ExxonMobil’s affiliate Esso Nederland BV plans to build a pilot plant at its Rotterdam Manufacturing Complex to test a technology that could significantly reduce CO2 emissions from key industries. The pilot plant aims to obtain data on performance and operability of the carbonate fuel cell (CFC) technology, jointly developed with FuelCell Energy.

Additionally, the pilot aims to address potential technical issues that may occur in a commercial environment and better understand the costs of installing and operating a CFC plant for carbon capture.

Esso’s Rotterdam integrated manufacturing site will be the first place in the world to pilot this technology. Pending a successful demonstration, ExxonMobil could deploy this technology at its manufacturing sites around the world.

Carbonate fuel cells have a unique ability to capture CO2 emissions from industrial sources before they are released into the atmosphere, while also making valuable co-products. This feature increases the overall efficiency of the capture process and provides additional value streams that reduce the cost of carbon capture and storage.

Carbonate fuel cell electrochemical reactions are supported by an electrolyte layer in which carbonate ions serve as the ion bridge that completes the electrical circuit. A side effect of this basic characteristic of the technology is that carbon dioxide introduced at the air electrode is transferred through the electrolyte layer to the fuel electrode, where it is more highly concentrated and easy to remove. This means that a FuelCell Energy electrochemical cell can be used as a carbon purification membrane—transferring CO2 from a dilute oxidant stream to a more concentrated fuel exhaust stream.


CFC technology is also modular, potentially enabling carbon capture across a wide range of deployment scales. When the CFC technology is technically ready for broadscale implementation, it could potentially offer economical decarbonization solutions for customers from a wide range of industries and serve the broader social goal of working towards a net-zero future.

The unique advantage of this technology is that it not only captures CO2 but also produces low carbon power, heat, and hydrogen as co-products.

—Geoff Richardson, SVP of Commercial and Business Development for ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions

The pilot project is co-funded by the European Union under the Emissions Trading System Innovation Fund and by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency by means of a Demonstration Energy and Climate Innovation (DEI+) grant.

The Rotterdam Manufacturing Complex is an integrated refining and petrochemical site. The refinery is one of the most energy-efficient refineries in Europe. It supplies the market with low-sulfur petroleum products, high quality basestocks for lubricants and feedstock for the chemical industry. The Rotterdam Manufacturing Complex is also integrated with an ultra-modern hydrogen plant of Air Products, located at the same site. The integration results in optimal energy efficiency and reduction of CO2 emissions.


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