FuelCell Energy, Drax announce new carbon capture project

By Erin Voegele | June 27, 2019

FuelCell Energy Inc. announced June 27 it has entered into a contract with Drax Power Station for an application of its carbon capture solution. Drax secured £500,000 ($633,503) in government funding to support the project.

Under the contract, FuelCell Energy will support Drax with a front end engineering and design (FEED) study evaluating the use of its proprietary carbonate fuel cells to capture carbon dioxide emissions from Drax’s biomass boilers. FuelCell Energy said its carbon capture technology is based on its proprietary carbonate fuel cell power plants, which are able to concentrate carbon dioxide from dilute flue gas streams as a side reaction during power generation. The concentrated carbon dioxide is then available for sequestration or utilization.

According to FuelCell Energy, the FEED study will focus on a system that captures up to 85 metric tons of generating additional power for the station. The company explained the technology’s ability to coproduce electricity during carbon capture provides a significant advantage over conventional solvent-based carbon dioxide capture systems, which consume both heat and electricity to operate. The fuel cell also destroys up to 70 percent of the nitrogen oxide emissions from the flue gas.

According to Drax, the FEED study will also explore the potential for utilizing carbon dioxide from the fuel cell pilot to help improve crop yields. Captured carbon dioxide will be used within an APS Group greenhouse adjacent to the power station that grows tomatoes and other salad crops.

The initial FEED study is scheduled to be complete in late 2019 and will include a detailed design and cost estimate for the demonstration. Completion of the FEED study may lead to the construction and operation of the demonstration system in a subsequent project.

The U.K. Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy awarded £500,000 toward the £1 million fuel cell biogenic carbon capture demonstration project.

“We believe fuel cell technology could help us to meet the rise in global demand for electricity, whilst capturing the carbon dioxide produced during its generation,” said Will Gardiner, CEO of Drax Group. “Our FEED study will help us to understand the technical and economic feasibility of fuel cells, with a view to scaling the technology up, whilst showing that clusters of businesses working together to deliver climate change solutions, can also deliver benefits for their businesses.”

“Carbon capture using FuelCell Energy’s solution is a potential game-changer for affordability and efficiency of concentrating and capturing carbon dioxide from emitters,” said Tony Leo, executive vice president and chief technology officer of FuelCell Energy. “We are pleased to have the opportunity to partner with Drax and the [BEIS] for such an innovative and critically important subject as cleaner energy.”

Drax has published an animation showing how the fuel technology works.