ExxonMobil is targeting greater innovation in carbon capture and storage and will expand an existing project with FuelCell Energy.

With reliance on fossil fuel power likely to remain for the rest of the century, the project aims to facilitate curbing of emissions from gas-fired power plants.

The companies hope to use fuel cells, rather than exhaust scrubbers, the industry standard, to capture emissions from natural gas-fired plants and at the same time generate electricity. Scrubbers typically consume power as they filter carbon.

  FuelCell Energy makes small-scale power plants across the United States. Exxon contacted  the company in 2011 to begin research, said Chip Bottone, FuelCell Energy’s chief executive.

“It’s critical that we have someone like Exxon, with their expertise, to create this market opportunity,” said Bottone, adding that the key to the success of the technology would be making it “as affordable as possible”, so power companies would want to invest regardless of whether governments had imposed a price on carbon emissions. 

The new carbon capture idea has so far been tested only at laboratory scale. If the research goes well, the plan is to scale up to a small pilot project in a year or two.

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