FuelCell Energy has been awarded $3m by the US Department of Energy to evaluate over three years the use of Direct FuelCells (DFC) for separating carbon dioxide from existing coal-fired power plants.

Efficient and cost-effective carbon capture can then lead to sequestration of this greenhouse gas, preventing its release into the atmosphere.

“FuelCell Energy has over 80 Direct FuelCell power plants providing ultra-clean power and usable high quality heat at more than 50 locations globally,” said Tony Leo, vice-resident Applications Engineering and New Technology, FuelCell Energy, Inc.

“This award enables us to further expand the use of our existing commercial technology to develop an additional application with significant market potential, namely the ability for our power plants to economically capture carbon dioxide from the emissions of conventional fossil fuel-fired power plants.”

FuelCell Energy’s carbonate fuel cell technology separates and concentrates CO2 as a side reaction during power generation. DFC carbon capture research conducted by FuelCell Energy has demonstrated that DFC is a viable technology for the efficient separation of CO2 from a variety of industrial facility flue gases such as cement plants and refineries.

DFC technology can also destroy some of the nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in flue gas streams, said FuelCell.

This three year research project will involve system design, cost analysis, and long-term testing of a multi-kilowatt DFC stack, with funding occurring in stages upon reaching certain progress milestones. Successfully attaining the project goals of capturing at least 90 per cent of the CO2 from the coal-fired power plant emissions within the DOE’s cost targets may lead to a demonstration project with a DFC power plant installation at an existing coal fired power plant.

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