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Advanced Power Generation from Fuel Cells

AUTHOR: David Scott
DATE: July 1993

This report describes the operating principles and status of fuel cell systems designed for power generation and considers the implications for coal of this developing technology. A fuel cell is a device for producing electricity electrochemically. The process was demonstrated over 150 years ago as a scientific curiosity but more recently gained public attention through the US space programme.

The potential of fuel cells for the clean, efficient generation of electricity was recognised by gas utilities who sponsored research and development with the objective of creating a natural gas powered fuel cell system to replace domestic boilers. Although the original programme was of limited success, research and development of fuel cell systems has continued. In both the USA and Japan there are now programmes aimed at the commercial deployment of fuel cell systems in the range 50 kWe to 50 MWe.

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