The fuel cell in Ontario is a molten carbonate fuel cell (MCFC). One of the benefits of this type of fuel cell – and why it’s dubbed “DirectFuel Cell” by FuelCell Energy, is that it doesn’t require an external reformer to convert more energy-dense duels to hydrogen. “Due to the high temperatures at which MCFCs operate,” the Department of Energy says, “these fuels are converted to hydrogen within the fuel cell itself by a process called internal reforming, which also reduces cost.”
In addition, by capturing the waste heat – as the Ontario fuel cell does, using it to heat the anaerobic digesters –a such fuel cells can run at efficiencies as high as 85 percent.
One thing that will be interesting to see, however, is how long the Ontario fuel cell plant is able to perform. According to the DOE:
“The primary disadvantage of current MCFC technology is durability. The high temperatures at which these cells operate and the corrosive electrolyte used accelerate component breakdown and corrosion, decreasing cell life. Scientists are currently exploring corrosion-resistant materials for components as well as fuel cell designs that increase cell life without decreasing performance.”
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