Monday, February 15, 2010

Natural Gas Fuel Cell

I just came across an Australian Company, Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd., that makes a solid oxide natural gas fuel cell, BlueGen™, that can produce electricity and heat.

BlueGen™ is a the latest breakthrough in small scale electricity generation - a modular style fuel cell generator that can be configured to suit a range of different markets and installations. For markets that require an alternative product approach to fully-integrated 'European style' systems, such as Japan, Northern America and Australia - BlueGen™ bridges that gap.

Utilising the Gennex™ fuel cell module; BlueGen™ is a grid-parallel SOFC system that operates on natural gas producing highly efficiency electricity.

* Output: up to 2 kW power export
* Efficiency: up to 60% electrical efficiency (net AC export)
* Modular installation; can be configured as:
mono-generation (power only)


co-generation (power+heat)

BlueGen™ is fitted with an integrated heat exchanger to recover the heat from the fuel cell module. A separate water tank (not supplied) can be connected to the unit to increase the total system efficiency.
I do see a few problems. It takes 20 hours to get the system up to operational temperature. So far it is only available in 50 Hz models. The USA uses 60 Hz. You have to burn gas to keep the system hot even if you are not using the heat or electricity.

One very good thing: It will self power if you lose mains power - if it is hot enough.

With all the new natural gas being discovered a system like this might make a lot of sense. If the price is right.

For those interested: there is no North American Distributor. It looks like an opportunity to me.

H/T Seeking Alpha article and comments on the coming glut in natural gas supplies.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

1 comment:

LarryD said...

Even with those limitations, it might be suitable for base load. Depends on how it compares to turbines, but 60% efficiency is impressive, I don't think turbines come close.