HVAC Breaking News

Aug. 3, 2006: Fuel Cell System Demonstrates Dual-Fuel Capability

August 3, 2006
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+
DANBURY, Conn. - FuelCell Energy Inc. has announced the successful demonstration of its stationary fuel cell power plants' ability to switch rapidly between two fuels, validating the systems' capacity to guard against fuel supply interruptions from natural disasters or security issues at mission-critical facilities.

Evaluated in conjunction with Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC), operators of the Department of Defense (DoD) Fuel Cell Test and Evaluation Center (FCTec) in Johnstown, Pa., the power plant continued to generate base load electricity on a secondary fuel supply (propane) when the loss of its primary fuel source (natural gas) was triggered during testing. This rapid fuel switch was successfully demonstrated more than 40 times during operations exceeding 3,000 hours.

The R&D project is being sponsored by the federal government to demonstrate the dual-fuel capability of Direct FuelCell® (DFC®) power plants. CTC is the primary contractor to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, involving its Engineer Research and Development Center's Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC-CERL). FuelCell Energy and CTC operated a sub-megawatt DFC power plant on HD-5 propane fuel at full load achieving an electrical efficiency of 46 percent. The Johnstown plant continues to operate, having accumulated a total of 3,060 hours on propane and generated 425 Megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity as of June 28, 2006. The plant also operated 550 hours on natural gas, generating an additional 45 MWh.

"Successful dual-fuel testing demonstrates DFC power plants can be a vital part of our nation's homeland security efforts by providing ultra-clean, firm base load power at mission-critical facilities," said Christopher R. Bentley, executive vice president of government research and development operations. "On-the-fly switching among fuel sources enhances the flexibility and value of our DFC products."

Propane, a readily available fuel that can easily be stored onsite, is used as a primary fuel in isolated or sensitive locations such as islands, remote sites, national parks, data centers, military bases, hotels, and hospitals, and, therefore, is an ideal backup fuel for DFC power plants, said the company.

Rapid fuel switching from natural gas to propane and back again was achieved on more than 40 fuel swaps at various load levels while the plant was generating power. The fuel swap to backup propane occurs instantaneously when the system detects natural gas pressure dropping below a predetermined trigger point. Improved in-line fuel utilization measurement technology was also successfully tested, improving fuel flow control. This is important for propane operation since a rapid change in fuel composition occurs when filling the propane fuel tank. This technology played a key role in achieving the rapid validation of the instantaneous fuel switching.

"With increasing focus on establishing effective homeland security measures, the rapid fuel switching capability of FuelCell Energy's DFC products can provide enhanced on-site power generation options for facilities where reliable 24/7 power is essential," said Franklin H. Holcomb, CERL's fuel cell team project leader. "Multiple fuel operation is part of the rapid evolution of fuel cells as a replacement for conventional electric power where high efficiency, increased reliability, reduced harmful emissions, and lower noise levels are key requirements for installation."

Testing validated the DFC power plant is capable of continuous long-term high-load high-efficiency operation on propane, as well as instantaneous fuel switching from natural gas to propane in the event of loss of natural gas supply without loss of power. The unit can also switch back to natural gas from propane, instantaneously and on-load, once natural gas service is restored.

The project is supported by funding through DoD, the U.S. Army, and ERDC-CERL.

Publication date: 07/31/2006

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to The NEWS Magazine

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

2014 MCAA Annual Convention

Scenes from the 2014 MCAA Annual Convention in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Podcasts

NEWSmakers: Julian Scadden

Training is an ongoing process. Julian will discuss how you can generate maximum return on time and energy invested training by following a three part process. Listen to this podcast to get expert tips on training, tracking and follow up. 

More Podcasts

ACHRNEWS

NEWS 04-21-14 cover

2014 April 21

Check out the weekly edition of The NEWS today!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

SERVICE CALLS POLL

Which statement on service calls best applies to your business?
View Results Poll Archive

HVACR INDUSTRY STORE

plumbing-hvac.gif
2014 National Plumbing & HVAC Estimator

Every plumbing and HVAC estimator can use the cost estimates in this practical manual!

More Products

Clear Seas Research

 

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications, Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

DON'T MISS A THING

Magazine image
 
Register today for complete access to ACHRNews.com. Get full access to the latest features, Extra Edition, and more.

STAY CONNECTED

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconLinkedIn i con