Fuel Cell Project Covers all the Angles

Once complete, a new project could soon create hydrogen for both cars and on-site power applications while using a wide variety of fuel sources.

Under a United States Department of Energy (DOE) Cooperative Agreement, Air Products recently awarded a subcontract to Fuel Cell Energy for the company to design and build a next generation hydrogen energy station (HES). The project — using Fuel Cell Energy’s DFC power plants and Air Products’ gas separation technologies – is directed toward co-producing hydrogen for vehicle fuelling and electrical power from a single system. The HES is directed toward co-producing hydrogen for vehicle fueling and electrical power from a single system. The HES effort will be directed toward a capability of using readily available fuels such as natural gas, propane and anaerobic digester gas from municipal and industrial wastewater treatment facilities. On-site generation of hydrogen is a potential solution to challenges relating to development and construction of an infrastructure for fueling hydrogen vehicles. The HES will be based upon the use of high-temperature fuel cell technology to produce three products; hydrogen, heat and electricity, wherein unreacted hydrogen can be recovered from anode exhaust gas. The HES will be designed to optimize the output based on user demand. FuelCell Energy’s sub-megawatt power plant will be integrated with an Air Products hydrogen purification system and related support sub-systems. The HES is designed to provide up to 250 kilowatts of electricity daily, sufficient to provide the base load power requirements of a 300-room suburban hotel, and enough hydrogen to fuel 20 cars per day. “This Hydrogen Energy Station could establish a bridge for continued hydrogen infrastructure development,” said Greg Keenan, business development manager for Future Energy Solutions at Air Products. Air Products recently completed a detailed evaluation on technical and economic aspects of this project under an initial phase of the effort. The system evaluation of co-producing hydrogen and electricity resulted in promising economics. “A single unit that potentially offers all three products is certainly attractive as a technology option for a number of new applications,” said Keenan. He added that power plants based upon this technology offer high efficiency, being able to recover up to 80-85 percent of the energy entering the system, and have low emissions. “We are currently commercializing our DFC power plants for combined heat and power applications in the U.S., Europe and Asia,” said Dr. Hansraj C. Maru, FuelCell Energy’s chief technology officer. “Making hydrogen available locally for other applications, such as automotive fuel cells, enhances the value proposition of our DFC products.” Several locations are being evaluated for the demonstration of the HES, presently scheduled to be on-stream in 2007.

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