AFC Energy to Install Alkaline Fuel Cell at UK Chemical Plant

25 Jun 2012

AFC Energy today announced it has commenced a joint project with Industrial Chemicals Limited (ICL) to install an alkaline fuel cell at a chlor-alkali facility in the UK and generate electricity from by-product hydrogen. AFC Energy’s role will take the form of an ESCO (Energy Supply Company) model, taking ICL’s hydrogen and selling the electricity generated under long-term contracts. Initially the chlor-alkali plant in Essex will operate using AFC Energy’s Beta Plus System, operating at a few tens of kW, but plans for the project are grand, and ultimately a 1 MWe system is envisaged. This would make it the largest fuel cell installation in the UK and potentially the largest alkaline fuel cell installation in the world.

The installation of the Beta Plus System is planned for later in 2012, but both companies are actively seeking grants from UK and European funding bodies to accelerate the demonstration of the large-scale fuel cell system.

Commenting on the announcement Ian Williamson, Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are very pleased to be working with ICL in this ground breaking commercial-scale development, which will put British fuel cell technology and innovation on a global stage. I have previously emphasised our goal to move to a commercial demonstration phase for our technology and ICL have now provided the perfect opportunity for us to demonstrate commercial electricity supply. We now need the funding agencies to step up to the challenge and support our vision.

The UK and Europe are lagging behind the USA and Korea in their support for base load power from fuel cell technology. This clean energy opportunity would enable a European technology to demonstrate cost effectiveness compared with other forms of power generation. AFC Energy and ICL will seek funding from the appropriate agencies and bodies to accelerate the planned installation. Globally around 1.4 million metric tonnes of hydrogen is produced by the chlor-alkali industry alone of which 15% is vented or flared when our technology could readily help the environment as well as create economic value.”

Darren Sharpe, Energy Projects Manager of ICL, added: “Alongside the development of our new Chlor-alkali facility we have reviewed a number of fuel cell systems and other technologies that could be used to generate electrical power from the hydrogen that is produced as part of the Chlor-alkali process. We have been impressed with the potential of AFC Energy’s alkaline fuel cell system, the suitability of the system to operate with the Chlor-alkali process, the focus on commercial economics and the sheer pace of development we have witnessed at AFC Energy to further the capabilities of their fuel cell technology. The prospect of developing a fuel cell capable of producing 1MWe of clean electrical power from hydrogen that would otherwise be waste from the Chlor-alkali process is exciting in terms of technology advancement together with commercial savings on energy cost, distribution and supplier charges. ICL looks forward to working with AFC Energy and benefiting from the potential a large scale fuel cell system offers, and we hope that between us we can secure grant funding to accelerate the commercial demonstration of this technology.”

Industry Directory: AFC Energy

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