FuelCell converts methane gas into electricity

FuelCell converts methane gas into electricity

Aug 23, 2010 - The Stamford Advocate - Energy Central

FuelCell Energy Inc. has devised a way to extract megawatts from chicken droppings.
The Danbury-based maker of high-efficiency, ultra-clean electricity plants using renewable and other fuels recently sold a 1.4 megawatt fuel-cell power plant to G3 Power Systems Inc. that will convert chicken manure into usable energy. It is being installed at Olivera Egg Ranch LLC in French Camp, Calif.

The installation is the first of several initiatives by FuelCell to convert animal waste into clean energy, said R. Daniel Brdar, FuelCell Energy's chairman and chief executive officer.

"There's really an untapped source of waste material that can be turned into 'green' power," he said.

The City of Turlock, Calif.'s Regional Water Quality Control facility is using a 1.2 megawatt DFC1500 fuel-cell power plant that is turning methane gas into fuel.

The Olivera Egg Ranch plant, expected to be in operation by mid-2011, will create methane gas as a waste by-product through the use of a large concrete dome called an anaerobic digester, and then use it as fuel to generate enough electricity to meet all of the ranch's power needs.

"This pioneering fuel-cell power plant project demonstrates my commitment to the environment, enabling me to convert the waste stream from my poultry operations into bio-gas, which in turn is processed into clean, 'green' power," Ed Olivera, owner of Olivera Egg Ranch, said in a statement. "My waste disposal costs will decrease, as will my power bill, as the poultry operation will continually generate the fuel needed to create electricity, reducing the amount of electricity needed from the electrical grid."

Olivera Egg Ranch is a third-generation family farm producing about 14 million cartons of eggs a year for stores and restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area. Founded in 1949, the operation has three locations producing and distributing chicken, duck, quail and goose eggs.

"We evaluated all of the power generation options available in the marketplace today and identified fuel-cell power plants as the best commercial technology available to meet baseload power needs in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner," Ray Brewer, president of Novato, Calif.-based G3 Power Systems Inc., said in a statement.

FuelCell is expected to develop numerous power plants for converting animal waste into power, said Peter Wright, an analyst with Tradition Equities who covers FuelCell.

"It's a fantastic return on investment for them because it requires minimal tweaking of their equipment," he said.

FuelCell will service the power plant under a five-year service agreement. The sale of this power plant represents the first order by G3 Power Systems under an agreement that provides non-exclusive distribution rights for FuelCell Energy's power plants, which are generating power at more than 50 locations worldwide. They have generated more than 500 million killowatt hours of power using fuels including wastewater gas, bio-gas from beer and food processing, as well as natural gas and other hydrocarbon fuels.

Shares for FuelCell fell two cents Wednesday to $1.24


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