This new technology has the potential to substantially reduce costs and lead to a more economical pathway toward large-scale application globally.
The site selection comes just a few months after ExxonMobil and FuelCell Energy announced their ambitious research program to test fuel cell technology for carbon-dioxide capture.
Actual testing in a real-world setting is critical to eventually turning this idea into reality. And that’s exactly what the companies are hoping to do at Southern Company subsidiary Alabama Power’s 2.7-gigawatt James M. Barry power plant in Bucks, Alabama.
FuelCell Energy and ExxonMobil are working on front-end engineering and design of a pilot plant, which will test carbon capture from natural gas-fired power generation.
When testing begins, flue gas from the Barry power plant will be piped into the fuel cell, where it will be combined with natural gas. The fuel cells will concentrate and capture carbon dioxide and, in the process, generate electricity, unlike other carbon-capture methods which consume energy.
ExxonMobil vice president for research and development Vijay Swarup said the site selection is a key step in the research program.
“Breakthroughs like the deployment of carbonate fuel cells at power plants are essential for reducing emissions while at the same time increasing power generation and limiting costs to consumers,” he explained. “We continue to work with FuelCell on the scientific fundamentals in the lab while we look to progress the feasibility of this small-scale pilot.”
Scroll through our illustration to learn more about fuel cells and how they could help make carbon capture a cost-effective reality.