DCH Technology Inc. (Valencia, CA) announced it has shipped a natural-gas-fueled 5kW fuel cell system to a major European electric utility. The utility will use the DCH Enable proton-exchange membrane (PEM) system to validate DCH fuel cells for use as power-quality systems and, when tied to the grid, as an option for a clean distributed-power generation resource. The system will be installed next month.
The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI, Palo Alto, CA) worked with the European utility, a member of EPRI, and DCH to develop the equipment specification and to select key sub-systems such as the ultracapacitor for load buffering. EPRI performance-tested the unit prior to shipping and provided overall project management to help accelerate product development.
The 5kW DCH system with a natural gas reformer can be used as a power source for an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) or an adjustable-speed drive. It is approximately 50 percent more efficient in fuel-to-electricity conversion than an internal combustion engine generator. The system is available with a variety of output-voltage options that allow it to operate in parallel with the grid or separate from the grid.
“Traditionally, power-quality disturbances have been solved through the use of UPS systems based on battery banks with engine generator backup. To ensure reliability of these systems, regular maintenance of the battery and engine generator systems is essential,” said Bill Winnerling, EPRI power quality technical area manager. “Advanced systems like the DCH Enable PEM fuel cell could offer performance advantages over these traditional approaches, combining both power conditioning and long-term backup in one low-maintenance package. Performance testing will continue to prove the viability of this technology as a power quality solution.”