Ballard Fuel Cell System to Use Hydrogen from Gasified Biomass in California

28 Feb 2013

Ballard Power Systems has announced the sale of a 175 kW ClearGen™ distributed generation fuel cell system to the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe of Humboldt County, California. The fuel cell system will be integrated with a biomass gasifier and syngas purification unit to form an integrated biomass-to-fuel cell power solution. The system will be the first of its kind, with the potential to double the efficiency of biomass-to-power generation.

The system will convert locally-grown timber by-product into hydrogen-rich syngas, using pyrolysis gasification technology. This syngas will then be purified, resulting in a high quality hydrogen stream, which will be used to power the ClearGen™ fuel cell system. The plant will provide base load power for the Tribe's commercial enterprises and by-product heat from the fuel cell will be used to warm the swimming pool in an adjacent hotel.

Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe will integrate the ClearGen™ system, biomass gasifier and fuel purification unit with support from the Schatz Energy Research Center (SERC), a research and teaching centre affiliated with Humboldt State University's Environmental Resources Engineering program.

The project is supported by a proposed funding award to the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, a local-government joint powers agency, from the California Energy Commission's Community Scale Renewable Energy Development, Deployment and Integration Program. That program focuses on technical solutions enabling communities to rely primarily on locally-available renewable resources to provide electricity at competitive rates.

"The Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe is committed to renewable power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the energy efficiency of our facilities," said Arla Ramsey, the Tribe's vice chairperson. "Biomass-to-fuel cell power is an excellent match for our community and our region, and we see tremendous potential for deployments beyond our own facilities."

"Using biomass to produce hydrogen is an important enabler for distributed generation applications," said Larry Stapleton, Vice President of Sales at Ballard. "This initial installation will demonstrate a renewable, high efficiency, low emission solution that is cost competitive today in communities relying on diesel generators."

Source: Ballard Power Systems press release

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