FuelCell Energy Inc. said Tuesday that it is starting production of the first multi-megawatt hybrid project, generating ultra-clean electricity while recovering energy normally lost during natural gas pipeline operations. Enbridge Inc., a provider of energy transportation and distribution systems worldwide, ordered the new system.
The new Direct FuelCell-Energy Recovery Generation system (DFC-ERG) has a 1.2MW Direct FuelCell power plant and a 1MW unfired gas expansion turbine. When operating at natural gas pipeline letdown stations, it can generate 2.2MW of ultra-clean energy.
To achieve the high pipeline pressures that are necessary to transport natural gas across the continent, energy must be injected into the pipelines. When the gas reaches the lower pressure systems that deliver gas to homes and businesses, that energy is lost because there is presently no commercial use of the energy that is lost at that stage.
In the DFC-ERG system, high-pressure gas passes through a turbine, which captures some of the energy that would be lost and turns it into usable electricity. The heat that is generated by the fuel cell warms the gas to its proper distribution temperature, eliminating the need for a boiler to reheat the gas once it cools when the pressure drops. That means no added emissions from the boiler.
The system is expected to be available in the third quarter of 2007.
FuelCell Energy is a manufacturer of efficient electric power plants for commercial and industrial customers.