First Direct Fuel Cell Uses Japanese Brewery Gas

For the first time in Asia, a fuel cell power plant has been announced by FuelCell Energy Inc and Marubeni Corp.

DANBURY, Connecticut, US, 2002-01-14 [SolarAccess.com] The 250 kW Direct FuelCell® power plant will be sited at a Kirin brewery plant in Toride, near Tokyo, in the second quarter of 2002. The installation is part of Marubeni’s 15-year contract to supply the Toride facility with electricity and steam. The unit will be operated in cogeneration mode, using a methane-like digester gas produced from the brewery process. The thermal output of the fuel cell will be used by the anaerobic digester, which treats the brewery effluent. Kirin is a large power consumer and may introduce fuel cells in its remaining plants if the first one proves successful. The brewery’s decision to partially shift from energy from power companies to fuel cells is expected to have an impact on other major power consumers, according to observers. The fuel cell uses molten carbonate, which FCE claims is 20 percent more efficient units with electrolytes and phosphoric acid. Three molten carbonate fuel cells currently are in use in the U.S. and Germany. Marubeni will handle operation, maintenance and inspection of the fuel cell, and the energy cost is comparable to power from the TEPCO utility. Using methane-like gas to generate power is expected to contribute to global warming mitigation, because unprocessed methane gas has 20 times the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide. The Japanese government partly liberalized the power market last March, allowing non-power companies to supply a small amount of electricity to other companies, but the results to date have been minor. “We are very happy with the success of our Asian partner Marubeni, in bringing the first Direct FuelCell to Asia and Japan,” says Jerry Leitman, CEO of FCE. “This order represents another step forward in the development of key global markets.” “Marubeni is pleased to provide Kirin with reliable power and steam for their brewery operations using clean, highly-efficient DFC technology,” adds general manager Takeo Nakata. “We look forward to a steady increase in our energy services business using fuel cells from FuelCell Energy.”

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