Fuel Cell Energy and Exxon Mobil selected a location to test novel fuel cell carbon capture technology under development by the companies.
Danbury/USA — The James M. Barry Electric Generating Station, a 2.7 gigawatt mixed-use coal and gas-fired power plant operated by Southern Company, subsidiary Alabama Power, will host pilot plant tests of the technology, which uses carbonate fuel cells to concentrate and capture carbon dioxide streams from power plants. The tests will demonstrate carbon capture from natural gas-fired power generation under an agreement between the two companies announced in May, and from coal-fired power generation under a previously announced agreement between Fuel Cell Energy and the U.S. Dept. of Energy.
According to Exxon, this fuel cell carbon capture solution could substantially reduce costs and lead to a more economical pathway toward large-scale carbon capture and sequestration globally. “The fuel cell carbon capture solution we are advancing with Exxon Mobil could be a game-changer in affordably reducing carbon dioxide emissions from coal and gas-fired power plants globally,” said Chip Bottone, president and chief executive officer of Fuel Cell Energy. “The carbonate fuel cell solution uses a proven global platform to generate power while capturing carbon dioxide.” Vijay Swarup, vice president for research and development at Exxon Mobil Research and Engineering Company, said scientists recognized an opportunity to pursue the novel approach to use carbonate fuel cells at natural gas power plants.
The pilot plant tests will use Fuel Cell Energy’s commercial DFC3000 carbonate fuel cell power system to concentrate and capture a portion of the carbon dioxide emissions from the power plant as part of the fuel cells’ power generation process. Flue gas from power generation will be directed into the fuel cells’ air intake system where it is combined with natural gas. The fuel cells concentrate and capture carbon dioxide and also eliminate about 70 % of nitrogen oxide. Following capture, carbon dioxide will be compressed and cooled utilizing standard chilling equipment. Installation of the fuel cell plant will begin after completion of engineering studies that are already under way. Results from the natural gas pilot test will help guide engineering studies for potential construction of a standalone pilot plant to test the technology at a larger scale, under Fuel Cell Energy’s existing agreement with Exxon Mobil.
The Barry generating station is located near Mobile in Bucks, Alabama, and has 2,657 megawatt total generating capacity from six units fueled by coal and natural gas. Southern Company and Alabama Power have previously conducted carbon capture research at the location and at another power plant in Wilsonville, Alabama, near Birmingham.