There are many uses for natural gas, the abundant resource that is emerging as America’s 21st century gold rush.
Hill International, a global construction risk management group, will be using natural gas to power another relatively new technology: fuel cells. Invented by Bloom Energy, the solid oxide fuel cell boxes–known as Bloom Boxes–will be grouped in a cluster and powered by natural gas to create the Red Lion Energy Center in New Castle County, Delaware, the companies announced on Monday.
Diamond State Generation Partners, a related company of Bloom Energy, signed the contract with Hill. Together, the companies plan to build one of the country’s first gas-fired fuel cell plants that will feed energy directly into the grid.
Fuel cells like Bloom Boxes create power when positive hydrogen and negative oxygen atoms attract electromagnetically. The byproduct is water that is then separated again into hydrogen and oxygen using an external power source, like natural gas.
“This is a truly groundbreaking project utilizing groundbreaking green energy technology,” said Hill’s Senior Vice President and Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager Michael Griffin.
The technology has also been criticized by those who believe it is too expensive and requires further engineering advances, especially given potential weakness in markets for fossil fuels. To hear some of those critics, watch Breaking Energy’s video: Huge Oil And Gas Plays Stalk Energy Markets.
Besides the 135 Bloom Boxes, the energy center will also house a natural gas regulating station, a water well, a deionized water plant, a water storage, administration and control building and storm water management systems.
Photo Caption: A man stands next to a Bloom Energy server called a ‘Bloom Box’ during a product launch on February 24, 2010 at the eBay headquarters in San Jose, California. Bloom Energy, a Silicon Valley start up, introduced the ‘Bloom Box’, a solid oxide fuel cell server that can generate electricity at a cost of 8 to 10 cents per kilowatt hour using natural gas.