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Hydrogen fuel cell

PowerCell Converts Toxic Waste to Electricity

Hydrogen fuel cellSwedish fuel cell company PowerCell is leading a project to convert toxic waste from olive oil production into electricity.

Biogas2PEM-FC is an European Union-funded project coordinated by PowerCell with partners from Spain, Greece, Sweden and the UK. It includes a pilot plant in Andalucía, Spain.

The waste from olive oil production is environmentally harmful and costly to dispose of. It contains pesticides and toxic organic compounds; it is also acidic and has a high salinity.

The project has a three-part subsystem. First, an anaerobic digestion reaction produces biogas from the waste. The second step is a reformer to convert the biogas to a hydrogen-rich gas (reformate); the last step is the fuel cell system to make electricity from the reformate gas.

A complete plant has been built and is now demonstrated on an olive farm in Andalucía in Spain. The plant in Andalucía includes the reprocessing of waste from olive oil production, biogas production from waste, reforming of biogas, as well as a fuel cell power generation system from reformate gas.

In other waste-to-energy news, Nestlé’s on-site anaerobic digestion plant is supplying about 8 percent of the factory’s electricity demand and has eliminated its solid waste handling costs one year after commissioning, the company announced last month.


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