It’s Real ‘Rocket Science’ As UK’s First Fuel Cell Lands In Woking
Author HG Wells earmarked Woking as the place where aliens landed in his science fiction epic War of the Worlds. Just over a 100 years later real space age innovation has landed in Woking in the form of a fuel cell developed from space technology.
Guildford based BTU (Heating) Ltd has installed and commissioned the first fuel cell combined heat and power (CHP) system in the UK on behalf of Woking Borough Council at their Woking Park leisure complex.
The fuel cell CHP system, as part of a private wire district energy system, provides the leisure complex with heat to the swimming pool water systems, high grade heat to the heating systems, chilled water to cooling and air conditioning systems via heat fired absorption chilling, electricity and 100% pure water via a water recovery system.
Not only will the combined system meet all the energy requirements of the leisure complex but also become self sufficient in electricity and a net exporter of electricity all year round. The surplus electricity is exported to other Council sites and in conjunction with the Council’s innovative public/private joint venture Energy Services Company, Thameswey Energy Ltd, will also be supplied to local sheltered housing residents and businesses as part of its green generation portfolio.
A fuel cell contains an anode and a cathode insulated by an electrolyte between them. Hydrogen is supplied to the anode while oxygen is supplied to the cathode. The two gases try to join, but because of the electrolyte, the hydrogen atom splits into a proton and electron allowing the proton to pass freely through the electrolyte whilst the electron takes a different route, creating an electric current before recombining with the hydrogen and oxygen, creating a molecule of water. This chemical process generates not only electrical and thermal energy but also 100% pure water.
Fuel cell technology generates 50% more electricity than the conventional equivalent without burning any fuel. As a result carbon dioxide CO2 emissions are significantly reduced and other harmful emissions are virtually eliminated meeting the Government’s sustainability criteria for exemption from the Climate Change Levy.
The fuel cell CHP is manufactured in the USA by UTC Fuel Cells Llc who have supplied fuel cells for the US Space Programme since the 1960’s to provide heat, electricity and drinking water for the space programme missions.
Fuel cells now provide environmentally sound, clean, efficient and reliable energy systems in 17 countries on 6 continents.
The sponsors of this project are the Department of Trade Industry, Advantica Technologies (formerly BG plc) and the US Department of Defence under the USA Climate Change Program. The Energy Saving Trust are also supporting the provision of energy services to sheltered housing customers element of the project. The project has been implemented by Woking Borough Council with the balance of funding provided by its innovative public/private joint venture ESCO, Thameswey Energy Ltd, who will also operate the system.
Allan Jones MBE, the Council’s Energy Services Manager and Executive Director of Thameswey Ltd, said that “Woking Borough Council has been in the forefront of such environmentally friendly energy systems for some time, which has now been officially recognised by the Council gaining the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development 2001 for the development of its local sustainable community energy systems, the only local authority ever to receive a Queen’s Award for Enterprise”.
Commenting on the project, Andrew McCracken, Director of BTU (Heating) said: “We were delighted to be involved in such an historic event and see this as the benchmark for all future energy production. We will be looking to assist any other local authorities or, indeed, private organisations wishing to follow Woking Borough Council and Thameswey Energy Ltd’s inspired lead”.
Further information can be viewed on website: www.btu-group.com and www.woking.gov.uk/cgi-bin/archive.pl?item=988025744