Using the gas separating properties of fuel cells, a Connecticut company is developing technology to add carbon dioxide capturing capabilities to power plants, which it says could provide an economic way to meet EPA’s proposed power plant regulations. The process, developed by FuelCell Energy using a $2.5 million grant from the Energy Department, would also provide additional power generation to reduce the ratio of a coal plant’s carbon dioxide to kilowatts, the New York Times reported:
In FuelCell’s design, a coal plant adds a fuel cell unit next to its smokestack, and the fuel cell soaks up the carbon dioxide and adds power to overall output. Some energy is used — the demonstration unit here would produce eight kilowatts, enough for a midsize commercial air-conditioner, but in carbon capture mode makes only about six kilowatts — but the loss is more manageable than drawing energy from the coal plant for conventional carbon capture.
The process also unexpectedly breaks down nitrogen oxide emissions, a pollutant that is regulated directly and contributes to ozone pollution. The company’s next step is to build a full-sized demonstration facility at an operating coal power plant.