Danbury, Conn., April 25, 2003 — FuelCell Energy Inc. announced that it has been selected by the Department of Energy as a new project participant for its Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) program, subject to negotiation of a final agreement.
The total project award amount for the ten-year solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) development program is approximately $139 million that will be cost-shared with the DOE.
The goal of SECA program is to accelerate the commercialization of low-cost solid oxide fuel cells as quickly as possible over the next decade, a key element of DOE’s commitment to developing clean, efficient, reliable and affordable power generation for virtually all markets.
When fully developed as planned, this program will develop SOFC modules in the 3-kilowatt to 10-kilowatt size range that can be fitted together for combined heat and power products for applications up to 100 kilowatts. Target markets identified include remote sites, telecommunications, commercial and residential buildings, back-up, mobile standby and auxiliary power units.
DOE selected FuelCell Energy based on the expertise of its team and its advanced state of development of high temperature Direct FuelCell® (DFC®) carbonate technology, systems development, manufacturing experience and progress it has made in its commercialization efforts, thereby providing the best leadership and skills to develop SOFC technology.
The FuelCell Energy team members currently include Versa Power Systems (VPS), Materials and Systems Research, Inc. (MSRI), University of Utah (UU), Gas Technology Institute (GTI), Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Dana Corporation (Dana) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).
“Fuel cells play a central role in President Bush’s vision of a new hydrogen energy future,” U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said. “Hydrogen fuel cells will help free us of our dependence on foreign oil and eliminate harmful emissions.”
“This award by the DOE recognizes our strength and expertise as a leader in high temperature fuel cell product development and commercialization for stationary power applications,” said Jerry D. Leitman, Chairman and CEO of FuelCell Energy, Inc. “The skills and experience we have gained with our DFC power plants will enable us to meet the goals of DOE’s SECA program.”
FuelCell Energy, as team leader, will coordinate development activities of all participants and will contribute its expertise in fuel cell manufacturing, assembly, stacking, sealing, internal reforming, advanced cooling to boost electrical efficiency and product packaging. The cell technology approach will be based on UU’s anode-supported SOFC design. The stack technology will draw upon the advances made by MSRI complemented by thermal integration for efficient cooling by GTI. Modeling expertise will be provided by PNNL.
Innovative seal designs will be based on Dana’s experience in the automotive industry and FuelCell Energy’s experience in carbonate fuel cells. The worldwide energy industry relationships of GTI and EPRI will be valuable in the commercialization of this technology. The proposed technology plan is based on a sound approach that combines the complementary strengths of the participant companies for greater synergy.
The FuelCell Energy team will base much of its concept on being able to lower the fuel cell’s operating temperature. Current ceramic fuel cells operate in excess of 1000 degrees C (or more than 1800 degrees F). By bringing temperatures down to 700 degrees C (or nearly 1300 degrees F), FuelCell Energy can use lower cost metal alloys, reduce insulation, strengthen seals, and make other improvements to reduce costs. The lower temperatures also will permit the Company to transfer many of the innovations it developed for its commercial line of molten carbonate fuel cells to its solid oxide design.
The 10-year program has three phases. The first phase will develop stationary modules in the 3 to 10 kilowatt size range and scalable systems for applications up to 100 kilowatts operating on natural gas with target efficiencies of 45 percent. Phase one is scheduled to be a three-year, $24 million program to be cost-shared by DOE and the FuelCell Energy team.
Phases two and three will focus on enhancing system efficiencies to 50 percent and 55 percent, respectively, as well as operating on additional fuels such as propane and diesel. The development of hybrid power plants combining fuel cells with turbines and stirling engines will also be evaluated in the latter phases. Advancement to these stages is dependent upon successes achieved in Phase one and subsequent congressional appropriations.
About FuelCell Energy, Inc.
FuelCell Energy, Inc., based in Danbury, Connecticut, is a world leader in the development and manufacture of highly efficient hydrogen fuel cells for clean electric power generation, currently offering DFC power plant products ranging in size from 250 kilowatts to 2 megawatts for applications up to 50 megawatts.
The Company has developed commercial distribution alliances for its carbonate Direct FuelCell technology with MTU CFC Solutions Gmbh, a company of DaimlerChrysler AG, in Europe; Marubeni Corporation in Asia; and Caterpillar, PPL Energy Plus, Chevron Energy Solutions, and CMS Viron Energy Services in the U.S. FuelCell Energy is developing Direct FuelCell technology for stationary power plants with the U.S. Department of Energy through their Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory. More information is available at www.fuelcellenergy.com.
SECA is a collaborative effort coordinated by two of the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories – the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) – supported by the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy, NETL’s Strategic Center for Natural Gas, and other government agencies. This alliance of U. S. industry, universities, and other research organizations, represents a new model for joint government and private industry technology development.
SECA’s goal is to create a solid oxide fuel cell that can be mass-produced in modular form. Used individually or in clusters, depending upon the amount of energy required, these fuel cells could be configured for a broad array of applications.
SECA promotes the development of friendly SOFC using commonly available fossil fuels, thereby making it an affordable, clean and reliable source of electric power for virtually all markets. The objective is to reduce fuel cell costs to make them a more broadly applicable and more widespread commodity in the competitive, mature distributed generation and auxiliary power markets. Additional information can be found at www.seca.doe.gov.