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FuelCell Energy Announces Cooperation With Fraunhofer IKTS to Develop the European Market for Stationary Fuel Cell Power Plants

The Cooperation Will Target Opportunities in Europe for Ultra-Clean Baseload Power From Stationary Fuel Cell Power Plants Using Clean Natural Gas and Renewable Biogas

DANBURY, Conn.– FuelCell Energy, Inc. FCEL, a leading manufacturer of ultra-clean, efficient and reliable fuel cell power plants, today announced a memorandum of understanding to form a German-based joint venture with Fraunhofer IKTS (Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems) to develop the market in Europe for Direct FuelCell(R) (DFC(R)) stationary power plants. Additionally, Fraunhofer IKTS will contribute certain assets and their expertise in fuel cells and materials science to the joint venture.

“Germany needs clean baseload distributed power generation and FuelCell Energy has market leading solutions so it is a very good fit for Fraunhofer to work with FuelCell Energy,” said Prof. Dr. Alexander Michaelis, director, Fraunhofer IKTS. “The Fraunhofer IKTS team looks forward to applying our materials science and fuel cell expertise to help develop a broader range of applications and markets for FuelCell Energy products and technology.”

The joint venture will target the European market for baseload distributed generation from a location in Germany to address the trend towards clean and renewable decentralized power generation. The attributes of stationary fuel cell power plants can help European countries diversify their power generation portfolio and reach sustainability goals as they provide continuous ultra-clean power in a highly efficient process at the point of use. The power generation portfolio of many European countries includes intermittent renewable power generation. Continuous baseload power from stationary fuel cell plants will help balance this intermittency.

“Fraunhofer IKTS brings world-renowned applied research expertise and a vast network of relationships that will help to develop and grow a stationary fuel cell market in Germany, which will then provide a platform for expansion throughout Europe,” said Chip Bottone, President and Chief Executive Officer for FuelCell Energy, Inc. “We expect that the combination of complementary knowledge and skill sets of fuel cell technology between our respective organizations is going to be very powerful for further enhancing the performance of Direct FuelCell power plants.”

“Strong partners like German-based Fraunhofer IKTS and our recent partnership announcement with Spanish-based Abengoa are helping us execute our European strategy to penetrate and rapidly grow stationary fuel cell installations in Europe,” continued Mr. Bottone. “We have an active pipeline of approximately 45 megawatts in Europe developed in just the past year with limited local presence to date, illustrating the strong market potential.”

FuelCell Energy will lead market development and servicing efforts for Direct FuelCell power plants as well as support for existing carbonate fuel cell power plants already operating in Europe. Fraunhofer IKTS will contribute research & development resources for enhancing DFC technology and use local knowledge and relationships to assist in market development. FuelCell Energy has established a legal entity in Germany for the joint venture and will retain majority ownership.

There are a number of existing incentives in Europe for stationary fuel cell power plants operating on either clean natural gas or renewable biogas. In Germany for example, a feed-in tariff is promoting adoption of combined heat and power (CHP) power generation as the German government is targeting 25 percent of electricity generation to include CHP by 2020, up from the current level of 15 percent. Additional incentives are available that are specific to fuel cell power generation.

DFC power plants generate electricity and usable high quality heat with an electrochemical reaction that emits virtually no pollutants. Avoiding the emission of NOx, SOx and particulate matter supports clean air regulations and benefits public health. The high efficiency of the fuel cell power generation process reduces fuel costs and carbon emissions, and producing both electricity and heat from the same unit of fuel drives economics while simultaneously promoting sustainability. Fuel cells can achieve up to 90 percent efficiency when configured to use the high quality heat generated by the power plant in a combined heat & power (CHP) mode.

Ultra-clean, efficient and reliable DFC plants can help solve the power generation challenges facing European countries. For example, Germany is targeting a 40 percent reduction in carbon emissions, doubling power generation from renewable sources to 35 percent, and aiming to eliminate nuclear power generation by 2022, which accounts for approximately one quarter of existing power generation. DFC power plants are fuel flexible, capable of operating on clean natural gas or renewable biogas. Germany, for example, has an extensive natural gas distribution network, supporting on-site power markets as well as utility grid support.

Founded in 1949, Fraunhofer is Europe’s largest application-oriented research organization with an annual research budget of EURO1.8 billion (approximately $2.3 billion) and more than 18,000 staff, primarily scientists and engineers. Fraunhofer has research centers and representative offices in Europe, USA, Asia and the Middle East, and more than 80 research units, including 60 Fraunhofer Institutes, at different locations in Germany. The Fraunhofer IKTS with its staff of 400 highly educated engineers, scientists and technicians is a world leading institute in the field of advanced ceramics for high tech applications. The primary markets for IKTS include energy and environmental technology with a focus on fuel cell development and commercialization.

Website: www.ikts.fraunhofer.de/en

About FuelCell Energy

Direct FuelCell(R) power plants are generating ultra-clean, efficient and reliable power at more than 50 locations worldwide. With over 180 megawatts of power generation capacity installed or in backlog, FuelCell Energy is a global leader in providing ultra-clean baseload distributed generation to utilities, industrial operations, universities, municipal water treatment facilities, government installations and other customers around the world. The Company’s power plants have generated more than one billion kilowatt hours of ultra-clean power using a variety of fuels including renewable biogas from wastewater treatment and food processing, as well as clean natural gas. For more information, please visit our website at www.fuelcellenergy.com

February 22, 2012 - 2:00 PM No Comments

Hydrogen station in Hamburg Vattenfalls latest endeavour in sustainable mobility

Hydrogen Station

Last Friday, February 17, Vattenfall opened Europe’s most modern hydrogen station for fuel cell buses and cars in the heart of HafenCity, Hamburg. In parallel with working on charging solutions and development of electric cars, Vattenfall also works with other alternative fuels. The hydrogen station in Hamburg is the largest in Europe and a step forward for hydrogen as fuel for transport.

The location of the station is in the middle of an urban environment and it caters to both busses and cars. Growing road traffic and related greenhouse gas emissions demand major efforts by researchers, oil and energy companies and others. Hydrogen is a very effective fuel to reduce emissions of CO2, something that is key to curbing climate change. In the HafenCity station, about fifty per cent of the daily capacity will be produced on site by two electrolysers powered by renewable electricity.

Vattenfall has invested EUR 5,1 million in the station in HafenCity, Hamburg. Shell is a partner and the German government has invested another EUR 5,1 million in the project.

Vattenfall is in a city partnership with Hamburg and has cooperated with Hochbahn Hamburg since 2003 regarding hydrogen stations for buses. This is an important next step for the cooperation. Vattenfall is an important player in the German organisation “Clean Energy Partnership” where several companies participate to introduce hydrogen into motoring in order to lower emissions of CO2 from traffic.

Using fuel cell based cars and buses is an alternative way of mobility. Vattenfall is also cooperating with other industry players in order to push development of sustainable mobility and add alternatives within the transport sector. Some examples are electric charging stations in Berlin, cooperation with BMW for Battery electric vehicles and with Volvo Cars for Plug-In Hybrid electric vehicles.

February 22, 2012 - 7:20 AM No Comments

Metal catalyst drives hydrogen fuel reaction forwards and backwards

When it comes to driving hydrogen production, a new catalyst built at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) can do what was previously shown to happen only in nature: Store energy in hydrogen and release that energy on demand. This nickel-based complex drives the reaction, but is not consumed by it. While slow, the catalyst wastes little energy. It turns electrons and protons into hydrogen. The hydrogen molecule holds the energy in a very small space until it is needed. The same catalyst then breaks the single bond in the hydrogen molecule, releasing electrons to do work.

Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels benefits the economy, national security, and the environment. However, solar and wind power cannot be major players on the energy stage until the intermittent power they generate can be stored and used when needed. One option is to transform the electrical energy from solar and wind into hydrogen, which can be used in fuel cells. To create the hydrogen, scientists want a single, efficient catalyst, which had eluded them. This research proves that such a catalyst can be synthesized.

“We are trying to build metal catalysts that will convert between electrical and chemical energy to make it possible to use renewable sources,” said Morris Bullock, PhD, who worked on the research at PNNL and is the Director of the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis.

Often learned in high school chemistry classes, the reaction for working with hydrogen looks pretty simple.

“However, the mechanism is remarkably complicated,” said Bullock. “There is a lot of detail in this process: taking the hydrogen apart, moving protons and electrons, and putting it back together.”

The team began with the type of catalyst they’ve worked with for more than two years at the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis. The catalyst relies on a nickel center or active site to do the work. This metal was chosen for its low cost and abundance.

“Replacing fossil fuels with devices that require precious metals is simply not reasonable,” said Bullock.

Wrapped around and attached to the nickel active site are several molecular strands or ligands. These ligands function as arms, transporting molecules, protons, and electrons to and from the active site. The team systematically explored how changing the size, structure, and behavior of the ligands affected the reaction. They characterized each version of the catalyst using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and electrochemical measurements.

With the catalyst characterized, they tested its ability to drive the reaction forward and back. The tests involved measuring the electric current produced by adding hydrogen to the catalyst. Using complex mathematical formulas, they determined the speed and efficacy of the reactions.

The catalyst proved very efficient, wasting little energy. Energy waste is measured by determining the overpotential, a ratio of energy used under real world conditions versus the energy needed under perfect conditions. “This [catalyst] has a lower overpotential than we usually find,” said Bullock. “Sadly, it is also slow.”

Speed. The team is working to speed up the catalyst by tweaking the molecular structure of the ligands to transport protons to and from the active site more quickly.

“We’ll figure out what the slow step is and then figure out how to speed it up. Then, we’ll take on the next slowest step, and so on, until we get the speed we need,” said Bullock.

Study Abstract

SOURCE – Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

February 22, 2012 - 6:26 AM No Comments