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Utility energy from waste gas

 

When Vaasa hosted the national Housing Fair in 2008, energy issues were a central theme. Wärtsilä installed the first solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) in the world at the fair site in Suvilahti. The fuel cell produces clean energy for the area’s households, using methane gas from the nearby landfill, which has already been covered and landscaped.

 

– The fuel cell produces energy electrochemically. The power plant is noiseless and the building small, so the power plant blends in well in the middle of the housing estate. Apart from electricity and heat, only small amounts of steam and carbon dioxide are released. The process is carbon neutral, since it utilizes biogas from the landfill. The landfill will continue to generate gas for at least another twenty years, even though it has been covered! If the gas was not utilized, it would have to be burned at the landfill, since it cannot be released into the atmosphere as such, Jenny Paulaharju explains.

 

– Apart from methane, the solid oxide fuel cell can also utilize other gases, such as methanol and natural gas. The power output of the commercialized product is estimated to be around 250 kW, while the test power plant in Suvilahti produces 20 kW. Regional energy production aside, potential application fields for this technology include industry, greenhouses, large business facilities, such as hotels and banks, as well as the marine industry. The first fuel cells installed onboard ships are already in use, says Risto Lejon.

 

Wärtsilä is becoming a true giant in distributed energy production in many ways. Research and product development around fuel cell technology is just one among many of the company’s development projects. In 2009, Wärtsilä was selected among the world’s one hundred best companies in sustainable development. The companies on the Global 100 list are considered to be the best within their industry fields at handling the risks and opportunities regarding the environment, community responsibility, and administration.

 

Risto Lejon, project manager

Jenny Paulaharju, test engineer

Wärtsilä Corporation

 

Wärtsilä is a leading supplier of equipment, solutions and services for the marine and energy industries.

 

  • Number of employees: approx. 17,500 in 160 locations in 70 countries
  • The number of employees in Vaasa approx. 2,800
  • The turnover in 2010 4,600 MEUR, of which the Ship Power business share 34%, Power Plants 31% and Services 35%

Wärtsilä is listed on the NASDAQ OMX Helsinki, Finland.

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