DANBURY, Conn., 12 July 2006. FuelCell Energy Inc., a manufacturer of ultra-clean electric power generation plants for commercial, industrial, and government customers, has successfully demonstrated its stationary power plants' ability to switch rapidly between fuels. The demonstration validated the systems' capacity to guard against fuel supply interruptions from natural disasters or security issues at mission-critical facilities.
Evaluated in conjunction with Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC), operators of the Department of Defense (DoD) Fuel Cell Test and Evaluation Center (FCTec) in Johnstown, Pa., the power plant continued to generate base load electricity on a secondary fuel supply (propane) when the loss of its primary fuel source (natural gas) was triggered during testing. This rapid fuel switch was successfully demonstrated more than 40 times during operations exceeding 3000 hours.
The R&D project is being sponsored by the federal government to demonstrate the "dual fuel" capability of Direct FuelCell (DFC) power plants.
CTC is the primary contractor to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, involving its Engineer Research and Development Center's Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC-CERL).
Rapid fuel switching from natural gas to propane and back again was achieved on more than 40 fuel swaps at various load levels while the plant was generating power. The fuel swap to backup propane occurs instantaneously when the system detects natural gas pressure dropping below a predetermined trigger point.
Testing validated the DFC power plant is capable of continuous long-term, high-load, high-efficiency operation on propane, as well as instantaneous fuel switching from natural gas to propane in the event of loss of natural gas supply without loss of power. The unit can also switch back to natural gas from propane, instantaneously and on-load, once natural gas service is restored.
The project is supported by funding through DoD, the U.S. Army and ERDC-CERL.