World’s largest alkaline fuel cell system tested in Essex

Posted on 25 Feb 2013

UK-based commodity chemicals producer Industrial Chemicals Limited is piloting a system for the world’s largest alkaline fuel cell energy generation system at its plant in Essex.

The system will use waste hydrogen, produced as a by-product at the chemicals works, as fuel to generate clean energy.

By harnessing the waste hydrogen, the fuel cell system will eventually provide up to 1MW of clean electricity for the factory,  reducing its reliance on the National Grid by up to 20%.

Industrial Chemicals Limited (ICL) has partnered with industrial fuel cell manufacturer AFC Energy on the project, which is being supported with a £4.9m European Union grant. AFC Energy has supplied the first fuel cell electricity generating system to test before installing the larger system later this year.

AFC Energy will own, operate and maintain the fuel cell systems so ICL signed a long-term contract to provide its hydrogen and purchase power to secure the investment.

“Our project with ICL is a flagship venture for us and the UK and we are pulling out all the stops to get it underway ahead of schedule,” commented AFC Energy’s CEO, Ian Williamson.

“Although the EU grant funding will not commence until April, we decided to press ahead with the first system to demonstrate our ability to generate low-cost electricity using purpose-designed industrial fuel cells.”

AFC Energy, which recently received major investment from Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, opened its first manufacturing facility in September 2012 and has developed longer-lasting fuel cells that Mr Williamson says “gives us confidence to implement plans in international markets.”