Siemens and Shell Team on SOFCs

July 14, 1999 by Jeff Shepard

Siemens Westinghouse (Orlando, FL) and Shell Hydrogen (Amsterdam) announced they will be creating a framework to jointly market a unique power generating technology using natural gas. The power plant uses the Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) developed by Siemens Westinghouse in cooperation with the US Department of Energy with the carbon dioxide sequestration (removal) technology developed by Shell. The new plant will virtually eliminate the release of greenhouse gases, according to Siemens. The advanced SOFC units will only produce water and pure carbon dioxide in addition to electricity. The CO2 will be injected into depleted oil and gas reservoirs, where it will remain permanently sequestered, replacing the hydrocarbons that had previously been trapped naturally underground for millions of years. A typical SOFC plant uses hundreds of electrochemical fuel cells which are bundled together into stacks. Each cell, a hollow ceramic tube the size of a broom handle, is capable of generating 200W of power. SOFC power plants can produce electricity economically, in commercial quantities with cost and space requirements comparable to conventional power generation technologies up to 10MW, according to Siemens.Siemens Westinghouse has already proved the basic SOFC technology with cells in the lab performing after more than 69,000 hours. A successful 100kW demonstration in the Netherlands has operated for more than 6,000 hours. The first commercial units will be sold in the 250kW to 10MW electric output range.