FuelCell Starts Test on Microturbine Power Plant

In the first test of its kind, a fuel cell that is integrated with a microturbine will be evaluated over the next few months.

DANBURY, Connecticut, US 2001-09-15 [] FuelCell Energy, Inc. will test a DFC/T power plant based on a 250 kW Direct FuelCell that is integrated with a Capstone Turbine Corporation modified Model 330 microturbine. The power plant is designed to operate in a dual mode, both as a stand-alone fuel cell system or in combination with the microturbine. Instead of fuel, heat generated by the fuel cell is used to drive the modified Capstone microturbine to generate additional electricity. The DFC/T power plant is based on FuelCell Energy’s design for high efficiency systems. At the core of the design is the company’s commercial DFC fuel cell technology. The system extends the potential fuel savings and positive environmental attributes of the DFC by combining a non-fired gas turbine and a network of heat exchangers, resulting in extra electricity and adding to the efficiency of the DFC. A proof-of-concept demonstration will provide information to design a 40 MW power plant that can approach the 75 percent efficiency goal specified by the Vision 21 program, as well as serve as a platform for a high efficiency DFC/T in smaller sizes for retail power applications. The combined system does not require combustion in the turbine. The test is being funded by the U.S. Department of Energy through its Office of Fossil Energy and managed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory as part of DofE’s Vision 21 program. An objective of that program is to develop power plants that generate electricity with net efficiencies of 75 percent while producing sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions of less than 0.01 lb/million BTU. Conventional power plants are 35 to 60 percent efficient and emit 0.07 to 0.3 lb/million BTU of sulfur and nitrogen oxides. The nitrogen oxide and sulfur emissions from the DFC/T system are expected to exceed the Vision 21 goals due to the non-combustion features of the power plant. The high efficiency will result in a 40 to 50 percent reduction in CO2 emissions compared with conventional power plants. “The data and the experience gained in start up, transient and continuous operation of the power plant will be incorporated into the conceptual design of larger MW-scale power plants suitable for inclusion in a Vision 21 system,” says Mark Williams, NETL fuel cells product manager.