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FuelCell Obtains $2.8M from DoE

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A pioneer in clean energy production FuelCell Energy Inc. (FCEL) received a $2.8 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DoE) Advanced Manufacturing Office. This contract will enable FuelCell Energy to continue with its research on tri-generation capabilities of a Direct FuelCell (:DFC) power plant for industrial applications.

What is Fuel Cell?

Fuel cell is a device by which electricity is produced through a chemical reaction. Each fuel cell has two electrodes, one positive and one negative, and an electrolyte through which charged particles can be carried from one electrode to the other. The chemical reaction that takes place at the electrodes produces electricity. Hydrogen is the basic fuel needed for the chemical reaction besides oxygen. Electricity is produced with negligible pollution and the by product is water.

Advantages of a Fuel Cell

Fuel cells can be effectively used for power generation, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions drastically. Not only will this technology reduce the use of oil for power generation, but will also provide fuel flexibility to power generators.

How can DoE chip in?

The cost of power generation utilizing fuel cell technology is higher than conventional sources of producing power. The challenge is to lower this cost and generate a large amount of electricity for industrial usage.

The DoE has been proactive in aiding alternative power generation in the U.S. Funding a project for continuation of tri-generation capabilities of a DFC power plant will go a long way to make this technology commercially viable.

The Benefits

Fuel cell power generation technology has the potential to be a game changer in electricity generation. Per a DOE report, in the next 10 to 20 years, the fuel cell market could range from $14 billion to $31 billion per year for stationery power, $11 billion per year for portable power and $18 billion to $97 billion per year for transportation.

Tri-Generation Fuel Cell Plant

The objective of the tri-generation power plant is to lower the cost of power generation. The idea is to generate electricity, heat and hydrogen in the same complex.  With tri-generation, hydrogen need not be purchased and transported while electricity will not be required to be purchased from the grid. Tri-generation at the DFC power plant is expected to come into operation by end 2014.

Effective Clean Solutions

Producing electricity from clean (cheap as well) energy sources is going to drive the utility space going forward.  The DoE too is providing all-out support to companies engaged in this field of innovative research. The bright prospects of fuel cell technology have been drawing companies like General Motors Company (GM) to secure fuel cell patents.

FuelCell Energy Inc. currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the same sector include Ballard Power Systems Inc. (BLDP) and EnerSys (ENS). Both stocks hold a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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