FuelCell Energy

FuelCell Energy is a Danbury, Connecticut based company that manufactures stationary fuel cell power plants. FuelCell Energy was founded in 1969 as the Energy Research Corporation to research both battery technology and fuel cells.

In the 1970s, the company conducted research into low-temperature fuel cells with grants from the U.S. military. Those ventures were abandoned in the 1980s to focus on high temperature carbonate fuel systems that offered greater commercial possibilities.

In 1992, FuelCell Energy released a commercially viable 120 kW molten carbonate fuel cell. Calling it the Direct FuelCell, the company went on to install units in over 50 locations worldwide. This includes a 2 megawatt installation in Santa Clara, California.

Direct FuelCell Line

The DFC line of products consists of molten carbonate fuel cells designed to run on hydrocarbon fuels. Specifically they are designed to run on biofuels, such as those produced by wastewater treatment, food processing, and landfills. They can also run on natural gas, coal gas, and propane. The systems are designed to automatically mix natural gas with other hydrocarbon fuels to allow for flexible operation.

In electricity generation alone, the DFC System is 47% efficient, making it one of the most efficient distribute power generation systems. Part of the efficiency is the result of the high operating temperatures necessary in molten carbonate fuel systems. These systems run at temperatures between 650° C and 1100° C, meaning there is no need for fuel reformation outside of the fuel cell itself. By combining electrical and heat generation, DFC Systems can achieve efficiencies as high as 80%.

DFC Systems come in several different combinations starting at 300 kW and going as high as 2.8 MW. The systems are scalable up to 50 MW. All systems are rated as “ultra clean” under 2007 California Air Resources Board (CARB) standards. The systems are protected by 61 patents in the United States and 66 patents internationally. The company has also submitted 30 additional U.S. patents and 130 additional international patent applications.