January 13 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Environment Year: 2018 Rating: 2
FueCellMarkets is reporting on a $30 million Phase II contract to expand testing of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) coal syngas power generation. This type of stationary fuel cell converts coal derived gas via electrochemical processes to produce electricity and heat. The result of this scalable non-combustion method is higher efficiency and signficantly lower carbon emissions.
Advancing Global Carbon Solutions
Coal is not going away anytime soon. In fact, its global market share is growing as the primary source of energy for electricity generation.
Cheaper solar and wind does not, by default, mean less coal in a world economy expected to double energy production in the decades ahead. Coal is already embedded into global power grids, and it is not going to disappear overnight.
If we expect to address carbon emissions, we have to do more than develop alternatives. We need scalable carbon solutions that move us beyond the age of combustion conversion and harmful release of emissions.
While coal will never be 'clean', there are cleaner ways of converting it that result in significantly less carbon emissions. We have written extensively about algae, but fuel cells offer another path forward.
Fuel Cells, Coal Gas, & a Post Combustion Era of Energy Conversion
One method being pushed by the US Department of Energy is coal syngas to electricity via Solid Oxide Fuel cells (SOFC). Instead of blowing up coal ('combustion'/fire powered) fuel cells allow us to convert coal syngas electrochemically and by passing the creation of tremendous amounts of CO2 (et al) emissions.
US-based FuelCell Energy develops high efficiency stationary fuel cells for commercial, industrial, municipal and utility customers. Phase II will extend from January 2009 through September 2010 around a 25 kilowatt (kW) solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) stack that will be integrated with a 250 kW to 1 megawatt (MW) fuel cell power module and a 5 MW proof-of-concept system that will operate on coal-based syngas (fuel created by reacting coal at high temperatures). The programs goal is to achieve 50% efficiency in energy conversion, up from 30-35% today using combustion based systems.
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