Fuel solution

Air Products has awarded a subcontract to FuelCell Energy to evaluate, design and demonstrate a next-generation Hydrogen Energy Station.

Air Products has awarded a subcontract to FuelCell Energy under a US Department of Energy (DOE) Co-operative Agreement to evaluate, design and demonstrate a next-generation Hydrogen Energy Station (HES).

The HES will build upon FuelCell Energy’s Direct FuelCell (DFC) power plants and Air Products’ advanced gas separation technologies. The HES is directed toward co-producing hydrogen for vehicle fuelling 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.

“Air Products believes that the HES can potentially be competitive with other distributed hydrogen generation technologies,” said Greg Keenan, business development manager for Future Energy Solutions at Air Products. Several locations are being evaluated for the demonstration of the HES, presently scheduled to be on-stream in 2007.

“We are currently commercialising our DFC power plants for combined heat and power applications in the US, 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.”

On-site generation of hydrogen is a potential solution to challenges relating to development and construction of an infrastructure for fuelling 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 optimise 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.

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.

Keenan added that power plants based upon this technology offer high efficiency, being able to recover up to 80 to 85 percent of the energy entering the system, and have low emissions.

FuelCell Energy has more than 40 power plant installations utilising its base DFC technology throughout the world. Since it delivered its first commercially-available DFC power plant in January 2003, FuelCell Energy’s units have reportedly generated more than 70 million kilowatt hours of electricity at customer sites.