There are currently several projects in the distributed generation market underway with various fuel cell developers and utility companies. These projects are helping to drive costs down and bring the fuel cells closer to commercialization. Below is a summary of some of the projects, taken from reference (25).
IdaTech LLC (formerly Northwest Power Systems), of Bend, Oregon, an Idacorp subsidiary, delivered the first of 110 planned fuel cell systems to the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), Portland, Oregon in June 2000. The BPA program is part of a fuel cell test and development phase intended to commercialize fuel cell systems for home and small commercial applications by 2003.
Avista Labs, an affiliate of Avista Corp., of Spokane, Washington, received a US patent in March 2000 that covers 162 claims for its modular, cartridge-based proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell. The fuel cell cartridges can be removed and replaced while the power system continues to operate. Additional elements of the patented system include proprietary designs that simplify the humidifying and cooling systems, resulting in lower manufacturing costs and higher efficiency. Currently, Avista has 30 fuel cells installed around the U.S. The second-generation fuel cell is planned to begin field demonstration in 2001.
Bewag AG's Treptow heating plant, located in Berlin, Germany received a 250 kW PEM fuel cell unit in April 2000 from Ballard Generation Systems, a subsidiary of Ballard Power System, of Burnaby, BC, Canada.
Plug Power, Inc, of Latham, NY manufactured six alpha fuel cells to be field tested as part of the Clean Energy Initiative, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), Uniondale, NY. Hofstra University was the site of the first tests, which began in February 2000. By the 60-day mark, the fuel cells had generated approximately 1900 kWh and operated in parallel with LIPA's T&D system.
Energy USA, a subsidiary of NiSource Inc, of Merrillville, Ind formed a joint venture with Institute of Gas Technology called Mosiac Energy LLC. They designed fuel cells for the core of the home's energy-generating system to be used in a Chesterton, Indiana housing development. Space heating and other household needs will be provided by the byproduct heat production.
IFC Corp, of South Windsor, Connecticut, has the most commercially advanced fuel cell for electricity generation, the PC25, a 200-kW phosphoric acid fuel cell (PAFC). IFC has over 200 fuel cells delivered around the world.
Siemens Westinghouse, of Pittsburgh, PA has manufactured the largest tubular solid oxide fuel cell (TSOFC) system. The Dutch/Danish consortium EDB/Elsam operates the system, which supplies 110 kW of electricity to the grid and 64 kW to the city of Westervoort, Netherlands district heating system. The efficiency is about 46% with exhaust gas values for NOx, SOx, CO and VHC under 1 ppm each. Commercial units ranging in size from 250 to 1000 kW are expected in 2004. Siemens Westingtonhouse installed a 250 kW unit at the National Fuel Cell Center.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is investing $1.5 million to develop and install a 250 kW molten carbonate fuel cell (MCFC) powerplant. FCE, of Danbury, Connecticut will supply the fuel cell. The goals of the project include testing and demonstrating the feasibility of the technology to generate electricity for the LADWP system.
In early 2000, FCE's Direct Fuel Cell (DFC) went into a joint public/private development with NETL. This system uses internal conversion of the natural-gas fuel to hydrogen, as opposed to an external unit. This reduces costs and creates efficient use of excess heat. The DFC system has already passed 8600 hours and a one-year milestone at FCE's headquarters.
The Navy is studying the concept of all electric ships. These new ships will not have a central engine room and long drive shafts. The ships will depend on redundancy of generator capacity for combat survival, rather than protection of a centralized engine room.
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Global warming is a huge problem which will significantly affect every country in the world. Many people all over the world are trying to do whatever they can to help combat the effects of global warming. One of the ways that people can fight global warming is to reduce their dependence on non-renewable energy sources like oil and petroleum based products.