The $3 million project is supported by the US Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy’s Carbon Capture Program and implemented by the National Energy Technology Laboratory.
After achieving the project design and financial goals established for phases one and two, FuelCell Energy has received the final $1.2 million award to continue into phase three of the project including the validation of the CO2 capture process using a DFC fuel cell stack.
Chip Bottone, FuelCell Energy CEO, says phase three, which will demonstrate a commercial fuel cell stack, is a “significant step” towards commercialization.
This third stage includes validation of the DFC technology capabilities by using a fuel cell stack to separate 90 percent of CO2 from a simulated coal gas plant exhaust. This test will be the final stage of the validation for the technology before field trials using a DFC power plant.
The company says analysis shows that the DFC CO2 capture systems have advantages over existing commercial technologies because they capture CO2 from fossil-based power plants while also producing additional power. The results have indicated that the DFC carbon capture plants have the potential of meeting the DOE’s carbon capture cost goal of $40/ton for commercial applications.
FuelCell Energy’s DFC technology separates and concentrates CO2 as a side reaction during the power generation process. In this application of the technology, the exhaust of a coal-fired plant is directed to the air intake of a DFC power plant, which separates and concentrates the CO2 in the exhaust for commercial use or sequestration.
Another side reaction that occurs is the destruction of 60 percent to 70 percent of smog-producing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in coal plant streams as the exhaust passes through the fuel cell. This also reduces the cost of NOx removal equipment for coal-fired power plant operators.
The company says additional benefits include reduction of the operating cost related to removal of NOx and reduction in water usage as existing carbon capture technologies are water intensive.