Trucking In Fuel Cell Power Generation : Ballard supplies 1 MW hydrogen fuel cell gen-set
By Amanda M. Klemp
Ohio’s FirstEnergy Generation Corp. will be host to Ballard’s 1 MW hydrogen fuel cell generator for service in Eastlake, Ohio, U.S.A. In a five-year trial, the fuel cell generator will ben connected to utility power and used to offset peak power demands during the summer months in the region. The unit is the size of a tractor-trailer and is fully transportable.
Ballard’s CLEARgen technology employs the company’s proton exchange membrane technology and hydrogen fuel to produce 1 MW of power, which could power up to 500 homes, said Ballard. With only water and heat as byproducts of the energy production, the fuel cell system cuts down on noise and other emissions, compared to diesel generators, said Ballard.
The generator operates on hydrogen with an LHV electrical efficiency of 42% (±2%). Output voltage ranges from 208 to 600 Vac with an optional stepup transformer at either a 50 or 60 Hz frequency. With minor modifications, the unit offers an output heat load of 1400 kW, said Ballard. Stack air outlet temperature is less than 65°C, and coolant outlet temperature of approximately 70°C can also be provided for a lowgrade heat cogeneration application.
Because fuel cells create dc power, Ballard designed the system with three ABB inverters, capable of 450 kW gross, to generate ac power to send to the grid. For stationary power applications, Ballard reconfigured its P5 fuel cell modules typically used in city buses. The generator comprises three virtually independent banks of three bus fuel cell modules each essentially nine bus modules. Each bank of fuel cells receives its own inverter, allowing the system to run one, two or all three of the banks for an output range of 230 kW to 1 MW.
In this application, the hydrogen fueling system will be provided by FirstEnergy; however, Ballard said the fuel cell system was designed to operate using a range of hydrogen sources and purities. “Our device needs only two things. It needs the hydrogen that’s supplied by the host and then air,” said Buz McCain, distributed power generation platform manager at Ballard. “It generates and uses its own water for humidification. The cooling system is self-contained so we don’t need cooling water to be supplied by the host site.”
The controls provide a secondary safety system (the primary safety sysby tem is hardwired in the unit) and optimize start-up time. Ballard said the gen-set can go from cold to full power in 6.5 minutes and from minimum to maximum power in less than a minute. In addition, the system has to be carefully calibrated to match the correct amount of hydrogen with air delivery and pressures.
At 2.9 m high by 2.4 m wide by 13.7 m long and weighing less than 40 000 kg, the unit is the size of a tractor-trailer and is fully transportable. FirstEnergy requested a portable unit to match the functionality of its existing diesel-fueled peak power generator sets. In addition to utility applications, CLEARgen can operate in remote areas off the grid or as a cogeneration unit with clean energies and is capable of running off byproduct hydrogen from chemical plants to generate electricity for sale to the power grid or to power the plant. The configuration is scalable up to 10 MW or possibly more, Ballard said. Ballard develops fuels cells for distributed power generation, bus fleets, backup and supplemental power requirements as well as material handling.