FuelCell Energy Inc. and ExxonMobil say they have picked a location to test a fuel cell carbon capture technology they are jointly developing.

The James M. Barry Electric Generating Station, a 2.7 gigawatt mixed-use coal and gas-fired power plant operated by Southern Company unit Alabama Power, will host pilot tests of the technology. The technology uses carbonate fuel cells to concentrate and capture carbon dioxide streams from power plants.

Barry Station in Alabama will host the test.Barry Station in Alabama will host the test.The tests at the facility will demonstrate carbon capture from natural gas-fired power generation. It will also test coal-fired power generation under an agreement between FuelCell Energy and the U.S. Dept. of Energy.

The fuel cell carbon capture approach has the potential to reduce costs and lead to a more economical path toward large-scale carbon capture and sequestration globally, the companies say.

The pilot plant tests will use FuelCell Energy’s DFC3000 carbonate fuel cell power system to concentrate and capture a portion of the carbon dioxide emissions from the power plant as part of the fuel cells’ power generation process. Flue gas from power generation will be directed into the fuel cells’ air intake system where it will be combined with natural gas.

The fuel cells concentrate and capture carbon dioxide and also eliminate about 70% of nitrogen oxide from coal. Following capture, carbon dioxide will be compressed and cooled using standard chilling equipment. Installation of the fuel cell plant will begin once engineering studies are finished.

Results from the natural gas pilot test will help guide engineering studies for potential construction of a standalone pilot plant to test the technology at a larger scale.

Carbonate fuel cells generate electricity and hydrogen while capturing and concentrating carbon dioxide streams, which will reduce the cost of carbon capture, says ExxonMobil.

According to 2015 data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, two-thirds of the 4 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity generated in the United States originated from coal and natural gas.

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