This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

April 03, 2002

Fuel Cell-Microturbine Hybrid Passes Performance Test

A unique power system that combines a solid-oxide fuel cell with a microturbine has successfully completed a 1000-hour performance test, DOE announced last week. The 190-kilowatt mini-power plant, about the size of a small house trailer, was gradually brought up to its full performance level during tests at the National Fuel Cell Test Center on the University of California-Irvine campus. The system is now converting about 53 percent of the energy in the natural gas into electricity, and DOE and other project participants hope to boost that conversion efficiency to at least 70 percent. The system will now undergo an extended test run to determine the reliability of the system. See the DOE press release.

The State of Connecticut is also supporting fuel cell technologies through its Clean Energy Fund. Last month, the Fund announced eight finalists for its commercial and demonstration fuel cell projects. Among the final projects are a 25-kilowatt solid-oxide fuel cell produced by ZTEK Corporation and a project to build a 50-megawatt fuel-cell power plant. See the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund Web site.

Fuel cell systems are one type of distributed generation — electricity generation systems located close to where the power is used, so they require less supporting infrastructure such as power lines and transformers. Fuel cells also offer the advantages of being clean, quiet, and modular. And according to a recent report from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), fuel cells will become economical over the next decade if their installers are able to take full advantage of these benefits. See the RMI press release (PDF 12 KB) Download Acrobat Reader

The full report is also available for download (PDF 1.5 MB).