GTI Subsidiary on Team to Develop Low-Cost Solid Oxide Fuel Cell
Apr 25, 2003
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On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) named FuelCell Energy, Inc. (FCE) and Versa Power Systems, Inc. (VPS) – the latter a subsidiary of the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) – as one of two new teams that will develop a low-cost, solid oxide fuel cell system for stationary power generation applications. According to DOE, VPS will provide the solid oxide fuel cell stack for a 10-kW power system module to be produced by FCE (Danbury, CT, U.S.). VPS is a for-profit joint venture of GTI, EPRI, FCE, MSRI (Salt Lake City, UT, U.S.), and the University of Utah. GTI owns 46.5 percent of VPS. This new team will join four others previously named by DOE under its Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) Program. That program was established to launch a 10-year fuel cell development program. The FCE/VPS team will initiate a development effort funded with U.S. $65 million in DOE money, supplemented by substantial cost-sharing from team members. According to GTI, the company is currently conducting several related projects for both government and private-sector clients, including a substantial diesel-fueled solid oxide fuel cell program with the U.S. Department of Defense that is to be coordinated with the SECA program. The SECA Program will have three phases, each with more challenging cost and efficiency goals. Phase one for the FCE/VPS team will last three years, funded at $23 million. It will aim to develop stationary fuel cell modules of 3-10 kW, operating on natural gas, with efficiencies of at least 45 percent. DOE created SECA to develop an all-solid-state ‘building block’ fuel cell that could be mass-produced, thereby significantly reducing capital cost. By the end of the SECA program, DOE says that it aims to bring costs down to $400 per kW or less – about one-tenth of currently available fuel cell systems – and to achieve efficiencies of 60-70 percent (more than twice those of today’s fossil-fuel power plants). According to DOE, it previously selected four other teams to develop fuel cells for specific applications, ranging from stationary power generation for homes and businesses, to auxiliary power units for vehicles, to systems for military use. Those groups are led by Honeywell, Inc.; Siemens Westinghouse Power Corp.; the combined team of Delphi Automotive Systems and Battelle; and the team of Cummins Power Generation and McDermott Technology, Inc.

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