Release Date: May 20, 2004
|NETL Opens Fuel Cell/Turbine Hybrid Research Facility|
MORGANTOWN, WV - The Hybrid Performance Facility — called the Hyper facility — is now fully operational at the Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). This one-of-a-kind facility, developed by NETL's Office of Science and Technology, will be used to develop control strategies for the reliable operation of fuel cell/turbine hybrids.
Combined systems of turbines and fuel cells are expected to meet power efficiency targets that will help eliminate, at competitive costs, environmental concerns associated with the use of fossil fuels for producing electricity and transportation fuels.
A fuel cell is an electrochemical device that produces electricity from hydrocarbon fels without combustion, while a turbine produces electricity when steam or hot gases expand, spinning the turbine blade. When the two devices are combined into an integrated power-producing system, the combined system achieves fuel efficiency and emissions performance that are beyond the reach of any single standalone system.
The Hyper facility provides a unique opportunity for researchers to explore issues related to the coupling of fuel cell and gas turbine technologies. While the efficiency benefits of hybrid plants are well recognized, controlling the flow of power from both the fuel cell and turbine during load changes is expected to be more complicated than in conventional power systems. "Others have shown that a fuel cell can be coupled to a turbine at a steady state. We're going to show how to make it work while the electrical load is changing," said NETL scientist David Tucker, who oversees the Hyper facility.
"In some hybrid configurations, fuel cell flows cannot be abruptly controlled, yet at times the energy input to the turbine needs to be quickly adjusted to meet changes in load without over or underspeed problems," said Tucker. "A variety of strategies are possible to address this issue, such as loading devices, energy storage devices, or defining new control strategies."
In addition to planned NETL studies, the Hyper facility and modeling results are available for public research collaboration. Collaboration with academic, non-profit, or commercial research groups can be arranged under a variety of cooperative programs, such as a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), and student or visiting scholar programs. Several industry and academic partnerships are now in place, including support from Woodward Governor Company, West Virginia University, Georgia Tech, and others.
NETL functions as a center for onsite science and technology development for the Energy Department's Fossil Energy program. It also places great emphasis on creating research, development and demonstration partnerships with academic, industrial and other governmental organizations.
|Contact: David Anna, DOE/NETL, 412-386-4646|