Biomass fuel cell project planned for California

By Staff | May 06, 2013

The Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe of Humboldt County, Calif., has purchased a 175 kW ClearGen distributed generation fuel cell system from Ballard Power Systems. The system will be integrated with a biomass gasification system and a syngas purification unit, resulting in an integrated biomass-to-fuel cell power solution that has the potential to double the efficiency of the biomass power production.

The system will use a pyrolysis gasification technology to convert waste woody biomass into syngas, which will be purified into a high-quality hydrogen stream. The hydrogen will fuel the ClearGen fuel cell system. Once operational, the plant will provide base-load power to the tribe’s commercial enterprises. Waste heat will heat a swimming pool at an adjacent hotel.

Schatz Energy Research Center, which is affiliated with Humboldt State University’s Environmental Resources Engineering program, will provide support for the project. A proposed funding award from the California Energy Commission’s Community Scale Renewable Energy Development, Deployment and Integration Program is helping fund the project.