FUELCELL ENERGY and ExxonMobil have selected a power station in Mobile County, Alabama, US, to test their novel fuel cell carbon capture technology.
One of the major problems with current amine carbon capture technology is that electricity is required to regenerate the amines for reuse, affecting a plant’s output. The new Direct FuelCell (DFC) technology, uses waste flue gases to generate electricity and hydrogen, increasing the plant’s output. The 2.7 GW James M Barry Electric Generating Station, which uses coal and natural gas, will host pilot tests of DFC3000, the commercial version of the technology. The tests using natural gas flue gas will be carried out in conjunction with ExxonMobil, while tests using coal flue gas will be carried out in conjunction with the US Department of Energy.
An individual DFC3000 unit can generate up to 2.8 MW of electricity. The exhaust flue gases are combined with natural gas and passed into the fuel cell. Here, the stack of membranes removes CO2 from the gases, concentrating it into a separate stream for easy removal. The remainder of the gases pass through into the fuel cell for power generation.
Capturing 90% of CO2 using the fuel cells increases the cost of electricity by only 33%, compared to 80% for conventional amine CCS, and decreases the pollutants released by the plant by 78%, including harmful NOX emissions.
“The world's growing need for electricity makes it critical to continue finding affordable, scalable ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants to mitigate the risk of climate change,” said Vijay Swarup, vice president for research and development at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering. “We're excited about the potential of this novel approach as we continue to work on the scientific fundamentals in the lab and look to prove their viability in the field.”
Chip Bottone, president and chief executive officer of FuelCell Energy, said that he believes the fuel cell carbon capture technology could be “a game-changer in affordably reducing carbon dioxide emissions”.
The two companies announced the development of the technology in May this year.
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