PITTSBURGH, PA - Four new government-industry projects
have been selected as the vanguards of a $500 million, 10-year effort
to produce breakthrough fuel cells that will shatter current cost barriers
and move the advanced, low-polluting technology into mainstream energy
Future fuel cells could be mass- produced
from flat, ceramic plates. This configuration is called a "planar"
Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham today announced that the U.S. Department
of Energy has selected proposals from Honeywell, Inc., Torrence, CA; Siemens
Westinghouse Power Corp., Pittsburgh, PA; the team of Delphi Automotive
Systems, Flint, MI, and Battelle, Columbus, OH; and the team of Cummins
Power Generation, Minneapolis, MN, and McDermott Technology Inc., Alliance,
OH, as the winners in a competition to begin developing ultra-low-cost
Fuel cells - which generate electricity more like a battery than a boiler
- were cited recently by President Bush as one of the "cutting-edge
technologies" that could help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
"This is a major drive to make fuel cells the technology of choice
for a wide range of tomorrow's energy needs," said Secretary Abraham.
"We know these advanced, clean power systems offer ways to strengthen
the reliability of our electricity supply while reducing pollutants. The
final hurdle is cost, and with the technology push we are announcing today,
we intend to overcome that hurdle."
The Energy Department's goal is to cut the costs of fuel cells to as
low as 1/10th the cost of currently marketed systems and to only 1/3rd
the cost of the more advanced concepts now beginning to reach commercial
readiness. At $400 per kilowatt or less, these future fuel cells could
find widespread market acceptance well beyond the niche applications of
Fuel cells are being installed commercially today, but high costs have
largely limited their usefulness to customers that demand premium-quality,
highly-reliable onsite power. Because fuel cells don't rely on combustion
and operate much more efficiently than traditional power plants, they
release 25 to 50 percent less heat-trapping carbon dioxide than today's
natural gas or coal-fired power generators.
Most fuel cells are custom manufactured and assembled one at a time,
a labor-intensive and expensive operation. Many use various types of liquid
acids or molten salts inside the fuel cell to carry out the electrochemical
reaction that generates electricity.
The Energy Department believes that developing an all-solid-state fuel
cell "building block" that can be mass-manufactured is one of
the best ways to dramatically lower costs much like advances in solid
state technology have cut the costs of computers and other electronics.
The department has formed the Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance
(SECA), made up of commercial developers, universities, national laboratories,
and government agencies, to develop the all-solid-state concept. Two government
laboratories - the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Morgantown
(WV) and Pittsburgh (PA), and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
in Richland, WA - are the driving forces behind SECA.
SECA-developed fuel cells could eventually be used to generate electric
power at central power plants, substations, or the point where the power
is consumed. Versions of SECA fuel cells could also be used for military
and automotive applications.
Each project will be divided into three phases. In the first phase, lasting
four years, the teams will aim toward an $800 per kilowatt cost goal;
in the next two phases, each lasting three years, the teams hope to trim
costs to $600 per kilowatt and $400 per kilowatt or less, respectively.
At each stage, fuel-to-energy efficiencies will also be enhanced, ultimately
reaching 60 to 70 percent or more than twice the efficiencies of most
of today's fossil fuel power plants.
If all projects proceed as planned, the department will provide about
$271 million over the next 10 years, with the project teams financing
approximately $226 million. Exact cost-sharing and other terms will be
negotiated over the next several weeks. Details of each projects follow
(click on each name for the proposer's project abstract - browser
will open new window):
Honeywell, Torrence, CA,
will design, develop and demonstrate a modular, 3- to 10-kilowatt
solid oxide fuel cell system for a wide range of power-generation
needs. The self-contained prototype will be able to operate on a variety
of fuels and can be designed as a stand-alone power plant tailored
for a specific market, or integrated into a larger system. The Energy
Department will provide nearly $74 million for the 10-year project
with Honeywell contributing $59 million.
Siemens Westinghouse Power Corp.,
Pittsburgh, PA, plans to develop a 7- to 10-kilowatt solid
oxide combined heat and power system for residential applications,
and a 3-to 10-kilowatt auxiliary power unit for automotive applications.
Working with Siemens are Fuel Cell Technologies, Blasch Precision
Ceramics, Georgia Institute of Technology, Lennox Industries, the
Trane Company, Dominion Resources, Ford Motor Company, Eaton Corporation
and Newport News. The Energy Department will provide $47.8 million
while Siemens Westinghouse and its team will provide $32.8 million.
Delphi Automotive Systems, Flint,
MI, and Battelle, Columbus, OH, will develop
and test a solid oxide design that can be mass produced at a low cost
for automotive and truck auxiliary power units, distributed power
generation and military markets. Delphi and Battelle will demonstrate
a 5-kilowatt system that operates on common fuels. The University
of Utah will participate as a consultant. The Energy Department will
provide $74.6 million while Delphi and its partners will contribute
Cummins Power Generation, Minneapolis, MN, and McDermott
Technology, Inc., Alliance, OH, will pursue stationary and
mobile markets by producing and testing a modular, 10-kilowatt system
that is quiet, highly reliable, highly efficient, and emits virtually
no pollutants. It will be designed to compete with and possibly replace
current reciprocating engines of the same size. The project accelerates
McDermott's existing solid oxide fuel cell program, and makes use
of Cummins Power Generation's skill in integrating systems and penetrating
a variety of small-size consumer and commercial markets. Key subcontractors
are Ceramatec, Inc. and Advanced Refractory Technologies, Inc. The
Energy Department will contribute $74.2 million while the Cummins/McDermott
team will provide $91.5 million.