Wood-Fired Fuel Cells In An Isolated Community

D McIlveen-Wright, DAVID Guiney

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Fuel cells have the potential for generating electricity very efficiently, and because of their modular construction, retain the same efficiency at any scale. Biomass is one of the renewable energy sources which is not intermittent, location-dependent or very difficult to store. If grown sustainably, biomass can be considered CO2 neutral. A combined heat and power (CHP) system consisting of a fuel cell integrated with wood gasification (FCIWG) may offer a combination for delivering heat and electricity cleanly and efficiently, even at small-scales.The “isolated community” (IC) could be an island, or simply where grid-supplied electricity is weak or non-existent. The IC was taken to consist of 200 people and three retail outlets. Heat and electricity use profiles for this IC were produced and the FCIWG system was scaled to the power demand.The FCIWG system was modelled for two different types of fuel cell, the molten carbonate and the phosphoric acid. In each case, an oxygen-fired gasification system is proposed, in order to eliminate the need for a methane reformer. Technical, environmental and economic analyses of each version were made, using the ECLIPSE process simulation package. Since fuel cell lifetimes are not yet precisely known, economics for a range of fuel cell lifetimes have been produced.The wood-fired phosphoric acid fuel cell (PAFC) system was found to be suitable where high heat/electricity values were required, but had low electrical efficiency. The wood-fired molten carbonate fuel cell (MCFC) system was found to be quite efficient and suitable for small-scale electricity generation purposes. The expected capital costs of both systems would currently make them uncompetitive for general use, but the specific features of an IC with regard to the high cost of importing other fuel, and/or lack of grid electricity, could still make these systems attractive options.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)93-101
    JournalJ. Power Sources
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Apr 2002


    Dive into the research topics of 'Wood-Fired Fuel Cells In An Isolated Community'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this