RECOVERY AND UTILIZATION OF COALMINE METHANE: PILOT-SCALE DEMONSTRATION PHASE [report]

George Steinfeld, Jennifer Hunt
2004 unpublished
A fuel cell demonstration was conducted on coalmine methane to demonstrate the utilization of methane emissions associated with underground coal mining operations in a carbonate Direct FuelCell ® (DFC ® ) power plant. FuelCell Energy (FCE) conducted the demonstration with support from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and in cooperation with Northwest Fuel Development, the operator of the Rose Valley test site in Hopedale, Ohio. The fuel cell power
more » ... The fuel cell power plant, a first generation sub megawatt power plant, was operated on CMM between August 1, 2003 and December 13, 2003. The direct fuel cell operated on low-Btu CMM with 42% methane content and achieved performance levels comparable to natural gas on a Btu feed basis. During this period 1456 hours on-load operation was achieved. The total power generated using CMM was 134 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity. The power generated was connected to the American Electric Power grid by a 69-kilovolt (kV) transformer. The maximum power level achieved was 140 kW. Efficiency of power generation was 40% based on the lower heating value (LHV) of the CMM. Compression and drying of the CMM resulted in additional parasitic load, which reduced the overall efficiency to 36 % LHV. In future applications, on-board compression and utilization of the saturated CMM without drying will be investigated in order to reduce the auxiliary power requirements. By comparison, the internal combustion engines operating on CMM at the Hopedale site operate at an over efficiency of 20%. The over-all efficiency for the fuel cell is therefore 80% higher than the internal combustion engine (36% vs. 20%). Future operation of a 250 kW Fuel Cell Power Plant on CMM will utilize 18,400,000 cubic feet of methane per year. This will be equivalent to: a) avoiding 7428 metric tons of CO 2 emissions, b) avoiding 16.4 million pounds of CO 2 emissions, c) removing 1640 cars off the road for one year, d) heating 267 households for 1 year, d) planting 2234 acres of trees. (Reference: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Coalbed Methane Outreach Program, http://www.epa.gov/coalbed/resources/converter.html) Based on the results obtained in this demonstration it can be concluded that utilization of fuel cells to mitigate CMM emissions is an attractive option that can be utilized to generate power at high efficiencies and with very low emissions. ii
doi:10.2172/835646 fatcat:zfdjbrvfmfbczj44vcu3adebbq