Fuel Cells - Use with Coal and Other Solid Fuels
AUTHOR: Sarah Benson
DATE: June 2001
Fuel cell developers are focusing on natural gas for their market entry products in the stationary generation market. However, future fuel cell power systems could be fueled by hydrogen produced by the gasification of coal. Analysis of a solid oxide fuel cell combined cycle power system fueled by coal gas, suggests that electrical efficiencies of up to 70% are potentially achievable for a 500 Mwe plant. Combined electrical and thermal efficiencies may reach 80% if the plant is used for cogeneration. There are also opportunities to provide hydrogen for fuel cells by the gasification of other solid fuels such as biomass and waste, either individually or by cogasification with coal. Issues which need to be addressed for the realisation of these fuel cell systems are the operation of fuel cells on coal or solid fuel-derived gas, optimal integration of the gasification and fuel cell processes and the cleanup of coal gas to meet the tolerance limits of the fuel cell. In addition, the commercialisation of all fuel cell systems is currently limited by the high cost of the systems in comparison to other technologies. Improvements in the cost of both fuel cells and the balance of plant are necessary to enhance their competitiveness.