Fuel cell to generate power from methane at California wastewater plant

FuelCell Energy, Inc has announced the sale of a 1.2 MW power plant to the Turlock Irrigation District (TID) to help meet its growing energy needs and improve air quality in the San Joaquin's Valley Air Basin, California, US. The 'Direct FuelCell' (DFC) power plant will be located at the city of Turlock's Regional Water Quality Control Facility, in California's Central Valley.

By running the plant on a renewable fuel – methane gas generated from its treatment of wastewater – TID will reduce its carbon footprint by 5200 tonnes annually, compared to a typical power plant, and will make significant savings on the cost of fuel.

California's Self Generation Program (SGIP), which was developed to foster the installation of clean and renewable generation sources throughout the state, contributed $4.5 million toward this project. The power plant will be installed in the summer of 2008 by TID and, once operational, will be serviced by FuelCell Energy.

DFC power plants have a system efficiency of 47%, says FuelCell Energy, significantly better than traditional power plants. And, by using waste heat, these plants can achieve up to 80% efficiency – providing substantial improvement in fuel costs and air quality.

Located east of San Jose, the TID was California's very first publicly-owned irrigation district. 'We researched multiple solutions, including engines, turbines and other fuel cell manufacturers, to address our need to use a valuable renewable resource in the cleanest and most efficient way possible,' said Larry W. Weiss, TID's General Manager. 'We selected the DFC product as the best way to generate the maximum amount of electricity while negating the harmful impact on the air quality of our community and air basin.'

'Wastewater treatment facilities are the perfect application for our fuel cells in the state of California,' said William Karambelas, Vice President of Business Development for FuelCell Energy. 'By their nature, wastewater treatment facilities are located near population centers, many of which are growing fast, so there is a critical need for added power generation to be not only highly efficient but also ultra-clean.'

FuelCell Energy currently has over 14 MW of power plants installed or on order for California customers, of which 4.85 MW are for wastewater applications.



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