Fuel cells, which generate electricity from hydrogen fuel and oxygen, have several advantages. Since a fuel cell does not involve combustion, it generates low to no emissions and is more efficient and reliable. The hydrogen fuel for fuel cells can come from different sources, including gasoline, natural gas, methanol, ethanol, or biogas from industrial, agricultural plants, and wastewater facilities. And fuel cells are versatile. They don’t have to be connected to the electrical grid and they can be stacked to achieve the necessary power output.
A U.S. company that develops and manufactures fuel cells for electric power generation is FuelCell Energy Inc. based in Danbury, Connecticut. The company provides fuel cell power plants for generating electricity for customers in Canada, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and the United States. The power plants are used by correctional facilities, government installations, wastewater treatment facilities, manufacturers, hotels, and other types of businesses. FuelCell Energy offers different types of carbonate DFC power plants, one of which can generate up to 2.8 MW using natural gas and biogas fuels.
As reported by Martin LaMonica for cnet news, FuelCell Energy announced in August, 2010 that it had sold two of its 300 kW DFC300 power plants for a wastewater treatment facility in Riverside County, California to be fueled by renewable biogas. The same facility had previously purchased three of the same power plants in late 2007. In August, 2010, FuelCell Energy also sold a 1.4 MW fuel cell power plant to be used at a poultry ranch in California where chicken waste will be converted into methane to run the fuel cell.
Also in August, 2010, FuelCell Energy announced the sale of two DFC300 power plants to the U.S. Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut. The byproduct heat generated by the fuel cell conversion process will be used to pre-heat the water for the boiler, making the process even more efficient.
In June, 2010, Pacific Gas and Electric Company ordered two of FuelCell Energy’s 1.4 MW DFC1500 fuel cell power plants to be installed on the campuses of California State University East Bay in Hayward Hills and San Francisco State University. The value of the contracts for installing these power plants is about $12.6 million.
In March, 2010, FuelCell Energy announced that it had been awarded subcontracts totaling $2.1 million by Air Products to demonstrate a renewable hydrogen fueling station at Orange County Sanitation District’s wastewater treatment facility in Fountain Valley, California. The fuel cell will use biogas generated from the wastewater treatment operations.
FuelCell Energy was founded 1969 and has been publicly traded since 1992. The company has its power plants installed in over 60 locations worldwide. In reporting its financial results for the second quarter of 2010, FuelCell Energy indicated that it had a product sales backlog of $75.5 million, with improving margins for product sales and revenues. The company points out South Korea as its largest and fastest growing market. The South Korean government has passed a Renewable Portfolio Standard that requires 4 percent clean energy by 2015 and 10 percent by 2022. This means that the country will need 350 MW of additional renewable energy per year through 2016 and 700 MW through 2022. The company’s fuel cells that operate on natural gas and biogas qualify under these renewable energy standards.
FuelCell Energy Inc. (FCEL) – Yahoo Finance
Martin LaMonica, “Biogas to produce power from fuel cells” – cnet news
Press Releases – FuelCell Energy
Technology – FuelCell Energy