Danbury, Connecticut [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] FuelCell Energy, Inc. recently announced approval to scale up a product that separates hydrogen from a gas mixture while generating electricity. The Electrochemical Hydrogen Separation (EHS) system, developed for the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC-CERL), enables the pure, extracted gas to be sold as fuel for hydrogen vehicles or for industrial uses.
Funding and scale-up approval of the EHS system are the direct result of achievements in design and test work with a sub-scale model starting in 2006. That prototype successfully operated for over 6,000 hours. Compared to conventional hydrogen separation processes, FuelCell Energy’s EHS system offered up to 50 percent savings in operating costs. Because of the high efficiency of the fuel cell plant, CO2 emissions associated with hydrogen production are significantly reduced.
The $1.2 million Phase II contract, supported in part by the U.S. Department of Defense, is expected to be complete by mid-2008. Phase I work on the EHS system was funded by the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, ERDC-CERL and FuelCell Energy. The sub-scale system was operated and tested at the University of Connecticut.
The EHS system, when combined with FuelCell Energy’s Direct FuelCell power plants, provides a solution for distributed generation of hydrogen and electricity. The overall co-production system is designed to operate using renewable fuel sources such as anaerobic digester gas from industrial or municipal wastewater processing, as well as readily available fuels like natural gas and propane.
“FuelCell Energy’s DFC-H2-EHS has many military and civilian applications that are critical to developing the hydrogen economy and furthering our energy independence,” said Frank Holcomb, Project Manager at ERDC-CERL. “The system will also help us meet the Department of Defense’s stated objective to reduce its energy needs by 1 to 2 percent, significantly reducing our NOX, SOX, and particulate matter emissions, as well as our carbon footprint.”