The University of Alaska Fairbanks and Fuel Cell Technologies of Kingston, Ontario, have announced that the five-kilowatt solid oxide fuel cell installed in Fairbanks has successfully passed the one-year field operational mark.
UAF has been testing fuel cell systems, which convert natural gas to grid-compatible AC electricity, for more than six years. Fuel cells promise highly reliable and efficient small-scale systems for remote power applications that may mean a significant reduction in both fuel consumption and CO2 production. Since system lifetime and reliability are major issues preventing deployment of these systems in remote areas, the one-year mark represents a significant milestone for solid oxide fuel cell systems toward proving that the technology is coming of age.
The unit has operated for 8,700 hours and provided 24,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity to the Fairbanks Natural Gas facility. That, together with an average of two kilowatt-hours of generated heat, brings the total system efficiency to 70 percent, a significant efficiency gain when compared to current systems of similar size, such as small diesel generators, which operate at about 25 percent electrical efficiency.
Dennis Witmer | EurekAlert!
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