Pasadena, CA — SAFCell, Inc. has completed an eight-month field trial of their remote power system at a Shell Canada well site in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. SAFCell’s system, which runs on industrial methanol, powered a methane emissions sensor from late February until mid-October, thereby demonstrating operability in the field at both low and high ambient temperatures.
SAFCell developed the 50-watt fuel cell system in partnership with Calscan Energy Ltd. (Edmonton, AB), which has extensive experience in developing electrical equipment for the Canadian oil and gas industry. Under a grant from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA), the two companies began in early 2017 to optimize SAFCell’s unit for deployment at off-grid oil and gas production facilities during harsh Canadian winters.
Commenting on the trial, Shell’s Science & Policy Advisor – Air, Brad Morello said “SAFCell’s remote power system has enabled us to test next generation methane detection technologies in our shale gas sites near Rocky Mountain House in Alberta. The system has demonstrated its resilience in extreme temperatures, from season to season.”
SAFCell is now extending its grant-funded field trials to the broader Canadian oil and gas industry, beginning this winter with Cenovus Energy, Repsol Oil and Gas Canada and Husky Energy. Under a separate contract, SAFCell will also provide field trial units to Bellatrix Exploration.
SAFCell CEO and President, Dr. Calum Chisholm commented, “We are excited to build upon our success with the Shell trial and work with our new industry partners this winter. Our remote power systems operate on industrial grade methanol, which is ideal for electrification projects at Canadian oil and gas sites, where sunshine is limited but methanol is readily and cheaply available.
Dr. Chisholm anticipates a growing demand for its technology in the near future due to an overall trend toward the “digital” oil field, in addition to government mandates for 40-45% methane reductions by 2025 (relative to 2012 levels). Pneumatic equipment in use at the vast majority of Canadian well sites are under heavy regulatory scrutiny as they are the greatest source of methane emissions from the upstream oil and gas industry.
SAFCell and Calscan have developed a “Near Zero Emissions Well Control System” as a reliable, efficient and clean alternative to the standard pneumatic equipment. “Once we’ve completed these next field trials and hit our product targets, we are eying electrification at the 185,000 well sites in Western Canada alone,” said Dr. Chisholm.
About SAFCell Inc.
SAFCell is working with the U.S. Army, oil and gas companies, and power system manufacturers to commercialize Solid Acid Fuel Cell systems. These quiet, clean systems operate on existing commercially available fuels, including (bio) methanol, ethanol, propane, (bio) diesel and natural gas. SAFCell power systems are more fuel-efficient, more-scalable, and have a lower total cost of ownership than incumbent, low efficiency thermoelectric generators and competing high cost fuel cell products. SAFCell’s systems are built using an innovative solid acid cell design which allows fuel flexibility and reduced costs. SAFCell was formed in 2009 using technology developed and patented at the California Institute of Technology.