U.S. Dept. of Energy Selects Developer for Hybrid Fuel Cell-Gas Turbine System

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff September 14, 2005

Atlanta-based GE Energy has been selected by the U.S. Dept. of Energy to develop a highly efficient, multi-megawatt solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC)-based power system operating on coal.

Under a 10-year, three-phase agreement with DOE valued at $83 million, GE Energy’s Hybrid Power Generation Systems (HPGS) business will design and demonstrate an integrated gasification fuel cell (IGFC) system that incorporates a hybrid SOFC/gas turbine as the primary power generation unit. A key objective of the effort is to achieve greater than 50% total system efficiency from coal, while a typical conventional pulverized coal-fired power plant operates at about 35% efficiency.

The program has three primary objectives:

%%POINT%%Develop a design for a 100-megawatt IGFC power plant.

%%POINT%%Design and demonstrate a proof-of-concept (POC) system.

%%POINT%%Resolve obstacles associated with the development of SOFC and develop and demonstrate an SOFC building block stack for multi-megawatt system applications.

“This development program is a great opportunity for GE and DOE to advance fuel cell technology toward commercialization through improvements in performance, cost and power output,” said Tim Rehg, general manager of GE Energy’s HPGS business.

Phase I of the development program, a three-year effort, will begin in Oct. 2005 and focus on system design of the IGFC power plant, IGFC and POC system cost analyses, and SOFC technology advancement.

Phase II will further advance the design of the IGFC and POC systems and will extend through 2010. Phase III, beginning in the fifth year of the program, will culminate in the demonstration of the POC system at an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant.

“Combining fuel cells with cleaner-coal technology will be a significant step toward the goal of providing products that reduce the impact of power generation on the environment,” noted Rehg.

The latest fuel cell technology program continues GE’s on-going fuel cell development work with the DOE. Since 2001, GE has been part of the DOE’s three-phase Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) program, and is nearing the successful conclusion of Phase I with the demonstration of a 5 kW SOFC prototype.

The development team also includes GE Energy units in Greenville, S.C. and Schenectady, N.Y., the GE Global Research Center in Niskayuna, N.Y., the University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash.