At the Palm Springs Fuel Cell Seminar (Nov 19), Edison Technology Solutions (ETS) announced plans to demonstrate and lead the commercialization of the first 250 kW “hybrid” generating plant integrating a fuel cell with a microturbine generator. The first unit, with a 200 kW pressurized SOFC and a 50 kW microturbine, will be installed in mid-1999 at the National Fuel Cell Research Center (NFCRC) at UC Irvine. Commercial launch is anticipated for 2001.
The hybrid plant will operate at an efficiency of 60 percent and a cost of $1000/kW, i.e. at lower capital costs than a standalone fuel cell, and with twice the efficiency of a standalone micro-turbine.
A variety of hybrid concepts have been discussed for several years by DOE. ETS is supporting an approach using the pressurized Siemens-Westinghouse tubular SOFC. It uses the microturbine compressor to pressurize the fuel cell to approximately three atmospheres. Exhaust gas at 1,500 deg F from the fuel cell is then used as the motive force for the microturbine, driving both its compressor and generator. While the plant at the NFCRC will run on natural gas, it is flexible to operate with other fuels. The plant has no detectable nitrogen oxide emissions, and greatly reduces carbon dioxide emissions.
Hospitals, hotels, universities and other customers with high load factors are seen as likely users of the hybrid power plant. ETS will work with utilities and energy service companies to commercialize and deploy the technology.
ETS is offering a proposition to utilities to become part of a focused fast-track commercialization program. From 5-10 participants will provide development funding in exchange for access to technical information and priority rights to commercialization opportunities. Based on earlier discussions with several prospective customers for the program, ETS is proposing a graduated series of commitment levels. Companies which commit to the highest level now would be first in line for commercialization rights.
By design, the program will remain flexible as to which brand of microturbine can be used, though the first plant is planned around a Northern Research unit. For the fuel cell, the entire program is integrally connected to the Westinghouse SOFC.
ETS has an exclusive license to a recent patent with broad claims focused on high speed turbines and pressurized fuel cell operation. ETS also has exclusive worldwide marketing rights to the hybrid power plant (based on the Westinghouse SOFC) up to 500 kW.
Contact: Jaime Medina, Edison Technology Solutions
US 5811201: Power generation system utilizing turbine and fuel cell
Inventor(s): Skowronski; Mark J. , Walnut, CA
Applicant(s): Southern California Edison Company, Rosemead, CA
Issued/Filed Sept. 22, 1998 / Aug. 16, 1996
Abstract: A system for generating electricity comprises a fuel cell, a heating stage, and an integral, power generator. The power generator comprises a compressor, an electricity generator and a turbine. Hot exhaust gas from the fuel cell is used for driving the turbine, which in turn drives the generator and the compressor. Both the fuel cell and the generator produce electricity. The compressor is used for compressing air for use in the fuel cell. A portion of the waste heat from the turbine drive gas is used for preheating the air utilized in the fuel cell.
(Edison Technology Solutions, a non-regulated company of Edison International, develops and markets new technologies, products, and services for the emerging energy and electricity marketplace.)