ExxonMobil and FuelCell Energy partnership marks a second joint development agreement on cutting-edge carbon reduction technologies. The two companies are aiming to work on low carbon solutions including carbon capture, to enhance Exxon‘s climate change efforts.
“We know we don’t know it all – so we look to other companies and academia…Collaboration and this notion that we’re in this together – let’s work together to develop these scalable solutions – is deeply embedded in what we’re doing at ExxonMobil,” said Andrew Sinclair who leads Northeast public and government affairs for the company.
It’s part of ExxonMobil’s climate change business strategy to work with smaller companies with advanced carbon reduction technologies in order to lead into R&D for climate science. According to ExxonMobil’s Mr Sinclair, FuelCell Energy’s technology is a game-changer as it produces electricity from a carbon separation process.
As explained by Jennifer Arasimowicz – Executive Vice President of FuelCell Energy, the company’s fuel cell technology uses methane gas to produce electricity. The fuel cells can turn into electricity the gas from plant digesters of wastewater, for example.
“Our carbonate fuel cells are installed in multiple types of configurations…They take any type of a methane-rich fuel – whether it’s natural gas, propane, landfill gas, biogas – and through a chemical conversion with no combustion, turn that into electricity,” she points out.
The process also releases thermal energy so the company’s installations can also serve as dual heat and power units. An example of that is FuelCell’s Pepperidge Farms bakery in Connecticut that uses the heat to preheat ovens.
Exxon’s Carbon Reduction Efforts
ExxonMobil has been working on driving down methane emissions. FuelCell’s technology offers a unique for the industry approach that separates carbon in order to produce energy as opposed to other traditional ways.
“For the last four years, we’ve been driving down our methane emissions by 15%…Our next goal set for 2025 is to reduce our methane emissions by 40% to 50%,” said Andrew Sinclair.
According to him, carbon capture is also at the center of the company’s research for reducing GHG emissions. The company also tries to develop carbon dioxide removal solutions like biofuels for the industries that are the hardest to decarbonize like aviation, shipping and heavy trucking.
The two partners are working on a process for creating biofuels from algae as it has distinct advantages compared to food-source competing corn, for example. Algae is seen as a great resource as it doesn’t waste fresh water and yields more biofuels per acre than crops.
The unique collaboration between ExxonMobil and FuelCell Energy is a testimonial for how Big Oil is accelerating its efforts to find workable solutions for reducing its enormous carbon footprint. Partnerships that develop cutting-edge carbon reduction technology are highly important for their large-scale deployment.