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Global perspectives: Fuel cell deal

Canadian-based Ballard Power Systems signed a two-year agreement with H2 Logic A/S, a Danish company, to supply fuel cells for products developed for the materials handling market. Under the deal, H2 Logic will integrate Ballard’s fuel cells into hybrid systems for various materials handling vehicles including forklifts. Ballard, which has signed a deal to sell its automotive fuel cell assets to Daimler AG and Ford Motor Co., has focused on the forklift and back-up power markets. Financial terms of the deal with were not immediately available.

Meanwhile, Finland’s Wärtsilä won two contracts by Scottish and Newcastle (S&N), the major international brewing group, to supply and install equipment for two biomass-fueled combined heat and power plants (CHP). The contracts are for two CHP plants on the company’s U.K. breweries in Manchester and Tadcaster. These Wärtsilä BioPower plants will be the first power plants in the world ever to produce, with high efficiency, both electricity and heat using spent grain as fuel. The plants will supply the energy needs of the breweries. The Wärtsilä solution represents a major step toward sustainable energy self-sufficiency for the brewing industry. At the same time, these BioPower plants will help the U.K. meet its target of having renewable power 10% of the country’s electric supply by 2010.

The CHP plants will each have a thermal output of 7.4 MWth and an electrical output of 3.1 MWe. The plants are due to start operations in the first and second quarters of 2009, producing steam and electricity for the breweries’ processes and exporting excess electricity to the local electricity network. S&N will earn Renewable Obligation Certificates for its production of renewable electricity. When installed, the Wärtsilä BioPower plants will burn a mixture of spent grain and wood chips from local sources. Spent grain is a by-product of the brewing process, consisting of solid residue after mashing and lautering. It consists of the grain remaining after the fermentable sugars come out during the mashing process. The spent grain comes from the brew house with a moisture content of approximately 80%. It then passes through a belt press, which reduces the moisture to 58-60%, a level suitable for the BioGrate without requiring any additional drying.

Wärtsilä also received a contract from Peruvian utility company Empresa de Generación Eléctrica del Sur (EGESUR) to convert the Calana Power Plant from heavy fuel oil (HFO) to natural gas. Wärtsilä also gained responsibility for relocating the plant from its current location in Tacna, to Independencia, Pisco. The Calana Power Plant is equipped with four Wärtsilä 18V32 reciprocating engines, operating on HFO. The scope of Wärtsilä’s contract covers dismantling, packaging for relocation, transportation, engineering, civil works, mechanical and electrical installation, supply of conversion components, overhaul of the engines, commissioning, start-up, and testing. The plant will enter commercial operation in October. During 2006, EGESUR took the decision to relocate the Calana Power Plant to Independencia to take advantage of the natural gas supply pipeline coming from the Camisea gas reserves, which is a cleaner and lower cost fuel supply. The Independencia Power Plant will supply environmentally clean electricity to Peru’s interconnected North-South national grid. The four Wärtsilä 18V32 reciprocating engines operating on HFO will convert to a Wärtsilä SG (Spark Gas) model. The engine has ported gas admission and a prechamber with a spark plug for igniting the fuel. The engines will, after the conversion, run on 100% natural gas.

Also in gas, Russia’s Surgutneftegaz commissioned the 12 MW gas-turbine power station GTES-12 on its Western-Chigorinskoe oil deposit, supplied by Saturn Gas Turbines. The Saturn Scientific Production Association came about with the merger of Rybinsk Motors and A. Lyulka-Saturn in July 2001. Saturn is the leading company in the FSU specializing in the development, manufacture, and service of gas-turbine engines for military and civil aircraft, ships, power generating, and gas pumping installations.

When it comes to geothermal power, there is a downside. Staufen, in Germany’s Black Forest, was proud of its innovative geothermal power plan that would provide environmentally-friendly heating. Unfortunately, only two weeks after contractors drilled down 460 feet to extract heat, large cracks appeared in buildings as the town center subsided about a third of an inch (8mm). The baroque town hall, the main church, two schools, and more than 64 other buildings in the historic center felt the affects. Experts said buildings in the outer part of the town had risen by a similar amount. The problems began when geothermal boreholes penetrated an underground reservoir. As the water seeped out and the pressure fell, upper layers of earth started to collapse, causing the surface to sink. Staufen’s 8,000 residents fear repairs cannot start until the town stops sinking.

Cris Whetton is InTech’s European correspondent.

 Source:  1 May 2008, In Tech Home,  Global perspectives: Fuel cell deal, By Cris Whetton,  All contents copyright of ISA © 1995-2008 All rights reserved.

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