Calif.'s largest biogas-powered fuel cell comes on line

By Anna Simet | October 22, 2012

Believed by its developers to be the largest of its kind in California and the world, a 2.8 MW, biogas-powered fuel cell recently came on line at a California wastewater treatment plant.

San Bernardino County, Calif., municipal water district Inland Empire Utility Agency’s RP-1 Water Recycling Facility can treat up to 44 million gallons of wastewater per day, and will offset about 60 percent of its grid-derived power as a result of the fuel cell’s operation. IEUA has a goal of being off the grid through utilization of onsite energy by 2020 and already has solar and wind installations.

Anergia Inc. of Ontario, Canada, owns and operates the fuel cell, and is selling the resulting electricity and heat to IEUA under a 20-year power purchase agreement. The technology provider was Danbury, Conn.-based FuelCell Energy Inc.

FuelCell Energy says its Direct FuelCell plants can be located where biogas is generated and used directly; only minimal cleaning of the gas is required.  Prior to being used as a fuel source for the Direct FuelCell, the humidity and sulfur are removed, but the DFC technology does not require the removal of carbon dioxide. FuelCell touts this as a cost advantage, as pipeline-quality or directed biogas must have carbon dioxide removed prior to being injected in the gas pipeline, which adds cost.

The project at IEUA hosts FuelCell Energy’s largest system size, the DFC3000, which the company says is also ideal for hospitals, universities, large complexes and utility grid support applications. 



2 Responses

  1. Jeff X Williams



    Absolutely Awesome how they are taking a human waste and turning it into value streams! Congratulations! I would think every municipality would want do this? Impressive! I did a little research on this and found a video link below... Really Impressive! "New fuel cell sewage gas station in Orange County, CA may be world's first" "It is here today and it is deployable today," said Tom Mutchler of Air Products and Chemicals Inc., a sponsor and developer of the project. NO MORE ATTORNEY / POLITICIAN / LOBBYISTS... Gasoline prices are absolutely ridiculous!

  2. Adel



    John,If your comment on the cost of solar was meant in the aacsrbtt, please don’t forget that as a country, we're heavily subsidizing oil and coal industries (example: $80 billion each year in oil exploration tax breaks, just at the federal level). And if you factor-in the environmental (pollution) costs and public health costs that the oil and coal industries are not being charged for, solar and wind are a huge bargain.In the specific, for an organization looking at concrete energy options, solar is already cost-effective in many areas, especially where incentives are offered to level the playing field (wrt oil and coal subsidies), or where time-of-use metering is used, etc. Many organizations see an ROI on solar of 4-5 years. If you combine that with solar’s energy cost escalation protection, the effective ROI gets closer to what organizations are looking for.Compared to developing countries that are now building their infrastructure, the US has the disadvantage of having a large legacy infrastructure, so we can’t just scrap all power sources overnight and start over. But when a company builds a new data center, it’s refreshing to see that their decision makers are coming to the same conclusions that China and others are coming to: we’d be crazy to stubbornly stick to medieval energy sources.


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