SWPC and SCE Introduce Fuel Cell Microturbine

March 27, 2002 by Jeff Shepard

US Department of Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham joined Siemens Westinghouse Power Corp. (SWPC, Orlando, FL) and Southern California Edison (SCE, Rosemead, CA) for the introduction of the world’s first combination of a fuel cell and microturbine. Linked together in a mini-power plant the size of a small house trailer, the advanced generator is being tested at the National Fuel Cell Research Center on the campus of the University of California, Irvine.

The system combines a Siemens Westinghouse solid-oxide fuel cell with an Ingersoll Rand Co. (Woodcliff Lake, NJ, formerly Northern Research and Engineering Corp.) microturbine. In the California unit, the two technologies combine to produce approximately 190kW of electricity, enough to power approximately 200 homes. Early test data show electrical efficiencies of approximately 53 percent, believed to be a world record for the operation of any fuel cell system on natural gas. Improvements in the technology could ultimately raise efficiencies to 60 percent for smaller systems and 70 percent or higher for larger systems.

"Siemens Westinghouse has long been committed to bringing clean, efficient power generation options to the mainstream energy market," said Randy Zwirn, president and CEO of Siemens Westinghouse. "Now, after 20 years of researching and developing the fuel cell technology and implementing projects like the Irvine system, we plan to deploy our first fuel cell products in the commercial market by fall 2003."