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Feasability study of an urban fuel cell network with coal gasifier


The fuel cell technology has considerably progressed within the last few years. Experimental models and some prototypes have been designed and produced, and the result of the tests are very promising.

On the basis of these developments, the main objective of this project is to evaluate the technical feasability and the economic advantages of connecting a cogeneration power plant using Solid Oxide or Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell fed with gases issued from coal gasification to an existing urban network.
For this purpose, the METZ network (electric power: 265 MW, thermal power: 183 MW) has been identified as a reference for the study. In order that the results of this study can be then extrapolated for other European networks, a 50 MW power plant will be considered and the characteristics of the unit will take into account, when possible, characteristics and constraints of different European networks.

The power plant includes a coal gasifier, a specific dust removal process and a highly efficient gas treatment process devoted to avoid spoiling of the fuel cell by hydrogen sulfide, dust, chloride, .., the fuel cell stack, a complementary gas oxidation process and heat recuperators.

In comparison with conventional cogeneration technologies, as gas turbine, steam turbine or thermal engine, such a process presents, a priori, the main following advantages:

- higher electric efficiency: 45 to 50 % instead of 30 to 35 %,
- better heat valorization due to the high operating temperature of fuel cells (650 to 1000°C),

- lower accoustic level (no rotating machinery in fuel cells), which will contribute to an easier urban integration,

- lower operating costs.

Furthermore, the integration of a coal gasifier in fuel cell power plants is potentially the most efficient and least polluting method to generate electricity from coal.

The work programme will comprise five steps:

- the definition of all requirement related to the cogeneration unit such as the performance and operating conditions, the operating constraints (safety, environment, ...) and the process interfaces,

- the identification of the most adapted arrangement for the industrial unit, in particular defining the best structure and the main operating equipment in coherence with the network requirements,

- the preliminary design of the above-mentionned equipment,

- the determination of the capital costs and operating costs to deduct the final cost of the electricity and thermal energy produced,

- the evaluation of advantages of cogeneration using fuel cells fed with coal gasification and the identification of the technical points to be solved to make this process competitive with regards to conventional processes. This evaluation will take into account the characteristics of various coals and european urban networks.

The business plan of a 50 MW power plant demonstrator, including eventually complementary required research actions, will be proposed.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


Bertin et Cie S.A.
Zone Industrielle
40220 Tarons

Participants (4)

CDF Ingenierie SA
2 Rue De Metz
57802 Freyming-merlebach
3,Westerduinweg 3
1755 ZG Petten
42,Tenikringen 42
100 44 Stockholm
Usine d'Electricité de Metz
2,Place Du Pontiffroy
57014 Metz