FuelCell Energy Inc., manufacturer of ultra-clean electric power plants for commercial, industrial and government customers, announced Wednesday that the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) has awarded the company an additional $2.5 million to complete a land-based demonstration of its ship service fuel cell (SSFC) power plant and begin design work on a next generation ship-based prototype.
The project's goal is to improve the power generation efficiency on-board ships, also known as ship hotel power, by using high-efficiency fuel cell technology. To meet the Navy’s ship board power requirements, FuelCell Energy is adapting its Direct FuelCell (DFC) power plants to run on naval liquid fuels.
Liquid fuels need to be de-sulfurized before being used as fuel in the DFC plant. As a result, FuelCell Energy has developed a fuel processing system that seamlessly removes the sulfur and converts the liquids into methane gas, which can be used as a fuel in the power plant.The power plants are among the cleanest, quietest forms of generation possible and by generating power without combustion, minimal levels of harmful pollutants like nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and particulates are produced.
DFC power plants offer the advantage of maintaining high efficiencies at reduced operating outputs, unlike diesel generators which lose efficiency when operated at partial load. The next generation of ship service fuel cell power plants will feature modular architecture, expected to result in lower costs and increased compatibility with more types of Navy and cruise ships.
The project is part of an ongoing ONR vision for developing and deploying a megawatt size ship service fuel cell power plant. FuelCell completed conceptual design and supporting testing of critical components for the marine module which formed the basis of the demonstration power unit.The unit is scheduled to complete testing in Danbury and be delivered to Naval Sea Systems Command’s Philadelphia Detachment for further on-site testing and validation.