WASHINGTON, DC — The Department of Energy today announced the first two projects selected under the Department’s new Fuel Cell Coal-Based Systems program. The projects will be conducted by two research teams—one led by General Electric Hybrid Power Generations Systems and the other by Siemens Westinghouse Power Corporation—and they share the same goal: to develop the fuel cell technology required for central power stations to produce affordable, efficient, environmentally-friendly electricity from coal.
The new program leverages knowledge gained in DOE’s Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA), extending coal-based solid oxide fuel cell technology to large central power generation stations.
The benefits of developing coal-based fuel cell systems are significant. Coal is a cost-effective energy source and, with approximately 250 years of reserves, it is America’s most abundant fossil fuel. Our improved ability to use this domestic energy supply reduces our dependence on foreign markets and increases our energy security. In addition, fuel cells are one of the most attractive power generating technologies for the future. Fuel cell systems do not rely upon combustion; consequently, they produce nearly none of the air pollutants associated with conventional power systems.
Given these advantages, advances made under the Fuel Cell Coal-Based Systems program are expected to become key enabling technologies for FutureGen, a DOE demonstration of advanced power systems that emit near-zero emissions, have double today’s electric generating efficiency, co-produce hydrogen, and capture and sequester carbon dioxide.
The two teams will research, develop, and demonstrate fuel cell technologies that can support power generation systems larger than 100 megawatts capacity. Key system requirements to be achieved include:
- At least 50 percent overall efficiency in converting the energy contained in coal to grid electrical power.
- Capture of 90 percent or more of the system’s carbon dioxide emissions.
- Cost of $400 per kilowatt, exclusive of the coal gasification unit and carbon dioxide separation subsystems.
Projects will be conducted in three phases. During Phase I, the teams will focus on the design, cost analysis, fabrication, and testing of large-scale fuel cell stacks fueled by coal synthesis gas. Central to the Phase I effort will be the resolution of technical barriers with respect to the manufacture and performance of larger-sized fuel cells.
Phases II and III will focus on the fabrication of aggregate fuel cell systems and will culminate in proof-of-concept systems to be field tested for a minimum of 25,000 hours. These systems will be sited at existing or planned coal gasification units, potentially at DOE’s FutureGen facility.
The Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory will manage the Fuel Cell Coal-Based Systems program and projects. The new projects are described below:
- Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Coal Based Power Systems—General Electric Hybrid Power Generation Systems will partner with GE Energy, GE Global Research, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the University of South Carolina to develop an integrated gasification fuel cell system that merges GE’s SECA-based solid oxide fuel cell, gas turbine, and coal gasification technologies. The system design incorporates a fuel cell/turbine hybrid as the main power generation unit. (DOE Phase I award: $7.5 million; Phase I duration: 36 months)
- Coal Gas Fueled Solid Oxide Fuel Cell/Gas Turbine Hybrid Power System with CO2 Separation—Siemens Westinghouse Power Corporation is partnering with ConocoPhillips and Air Products and Chemicals Inc. to develop large-scale fuel cell systems based on their in-house gas turbine and SECA-modified tubular solid oxide fuel cell technology. ConocoPhillips will provide gasifier expertise, while the baseline design will incorporate an ion transport membrane (ITM) oxygen separation unit from Air Products. (DOE Phase I award: $7.5 million; Phase I duration: 36 months)