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September 22nd, 2009

DOE funds improvement of fuel cells

Published on September 22nd, 2009 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

FuelCell Energy Inc., a maker of fuel cells for institutional and utility applications, says it will be receiving about $1.9 million from the DOE to develop a part designed to improve fuel cell cost and performance.

The funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will support the development of a microchannel high temperature recuperator for fuel cell systems. Microchannels are tiny passages in heat exchangers, or recuperators, that significantly enhance heat recovery and potentially reduce recuperator cost.

The project includes the testing of prototype recuperators, test analysis, model validation and design of units sized appropriately for a MW-class fuel cell system, according to FuelCell Energy (pdf). In a news release, the company says the recuperator will be developed using its DFC/Turbine and solid oxide fuel cell systems that are supposed to be nearly 60 percent electrical efficient.

In partnership with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the company says it will fabricate and test a 15-kilowatt and a 150-kilowatt thermal recuperator. This project involves the development of design, scalability analysis, fabrication, and commercial applicability of microchannel-based recuperators for fuel cell systems.

The program’s goal is to improve the performance and cost of fuel cell power plants that are integrated with unfired gas turbines in combined cycle applications, the company says.

The company says it is also developing coal-based solid oxide fuel cell systems under a $30 million DOE agreement.

FuelCell energy is also awaiting word on several other ARRA grant applications submitted to the DOE.


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