On paper, the idea is brilliant: Capture carbon dioxide molecules from a power plant’s emissions before they reach the atmosphere, while also generating power.
The concept, formally known as carbon capture, is simple. Its execution, though, is challenging.
Despite the challenges, could fuel cells help cut global emissions?
ExxonMobil scientist Tim Barckholtz thinks so. Along with FuelCell Energy, Barckholtz and his team at ExxonMobil are tapping the power of utility-scale fuel cells to capture carbon emissions. Existing technologies for carbon capture are expensive and reduce the power output from a facility. The fuel cell process is promising because, unlike other carbon capture technologies, the fuel cells would capture the emissions from a natural gas-fueled plant and use it to generate additional power, rather than consume it.
The ultimate goal is to capture 90% of the carbon emissions from a power plant while producing additional useful power simultaneously - a win-win for everyone.