Fuel Cell Runs on Wood Chips, etc.

Ascent Power Systems Inc. (APS) and Community Power Corporation (CPC) have successfully tested a solid oxide fuel cell using gasified biomass. In a one-day demonstration, a CPC gasification system and an APS fuel cell were connected and together successfully generated electricity from gas streams derived from pecan shells, ponderosa pine wood chips and coconut shells.

Denver, Colorado – August 19, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] The test was conducted August 7 at the APS laboratory in Littleton, Colorado. Three different biomass fuels were individually gasified in a CPC gasifier and converted to electric power in a small APS laboratory fuel cell. Pure hydrogen was also run on the same fuel cell to calibrate power output. As expected, pure hydrogen produced the highest power level (2.76 Watts) followed by coconut shells (1.97 Watts), pecan shells (1.96 Watts), and wood chips (1.88 Watts). The three test fuels were selected to demonstrate the robustness of the technology. These fuels are also plentiful, under-utilized waste products from domestic and international agricultural and forest industries. CPC and APS are one of the first groups in the world to power a solid oxide fuel cell directly with gasified biomass. “This is an historic event. We believe this to be the world’s first demonstration of a planar solid oxide fuel cell operating on gasified biomass,” said John Reardon, Director of Research at Community Power Corporation. APS and CPC were both extremely pleased with the results of the test and are excited about future opportunities of fuel cells and biomass gasification systems. “We are excited about the results of this initial test,” said Robb Walt, President and CEO of Community Power Corporation, “and we are eager to take advantage of the substantial increased efficiency and operational benefits fuel cells have to offer over the gas internal combustion engine generators we currently use in our small power systems.” The planar solid oxide fuel cell has the potential to be used in small modular systems to achieve unparalleled electrical conversion efficiencies that are more than twice that of an internal combustion engine generator.
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