FuelCell Energy has announced it has been selected by the US Department of Energy (DOE) as a prime contractor of a third project team to develop a coal-based multi-megawatt solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) system. The total project award for the 10-year, three-phase Fuel Cell Coal-Based System programme is approximately $85 million. The project is subject to negotiation of a final agreement.
The programme’s goal is to develop a multi-megawatt SOFC power system, 100 megawatts and larger, with at least 50 percent overall efficiency in converting energy contained in coal to grid electrical power. This compares to today’s average US coal-based power plant with an electrical efficiency of approximately 35 percent. Other programme goals include capturing 90 per cent or more of system’s carbon dioxide emissions and meeting a cost of $400 per kilowatt.
FuelCell Energy will be responsible for the overall systems development of its coal-based multi-megawatt SOFC/T power plant. Other team members include Versa Power Systems, providing SOFC stack technology development; Gas Technology Institute, providing fuel cell pressurisation tests; and Nexant, providing coal gasification expertise.
The objective of Phase I, a 3-year, $10.5 million programme, is to focus on the design, cost analysis, fabrication and testing of large-scale SOFC stacks suitable for incorporation into 100-megawatt systems. Phases II and III will focus on fabricating and aggregating larger SOFC systems, as well as proof-of-concept systems to be field tested for a minimum of 25,000 hours.
Fuel cells do not rely upon combustion, enabling them to produce affordable, efficient and greener electricity from coal. The programme forms part of FutureGen, a planned DOE demonstration of advanced power systems that produce near-zero emissions, have double the current electric generating efficiency, co-produce hydrogen, and sequester carbon dioxide.