DANBURY, Conn., Oct. 3, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- FuelCell Energy, Inc. (Nasdaq:FCEL) a global leader in the design, manufacture and service of ultra-clean, efficient and reliable fuel cell power plants, today announced a $6.0 million cost share award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to continue existing research and development under phase III of the Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) coal-based systems program. The SECA program is a collaboration between the Federal Government, private industry, and academia to develop megawatt-class solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) power plants to efficiently and cleanly generate electricity from coal syngas. High efficiency power generation from coal syngas advances the nation's energy security while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As the program progresses to long term operation with coal syngas, near term applications using natural gas in combined heat and power applications is also a focus. The term of the award is 12 months and under the SECA program's cost share parameters, the DOE will fund 70 percent of the total award amount or $4.2 million. The objective for this award is to further enhance the performance and endurance of the SOFC stack through continued cell materials research and testing of a 60 kilowatt (kW) SOFC power plant connected to the electric grid at FuelCell Energy's Danbury, Connecticut facility. The results of these tests will be utilized in the design of a scalable 60 kW SOFC power plant with extended capabilities for combined heat and power (CHP) applications. The scalable design is the foundation for the larger multi-megawatt SOFC power plants. The power plant utilizes the SOFC fuel cell stack blocks manufactured by Versa Power Systems, Inc. Both the module which houses the stack blocks as well as the balance of plant for processing fuel, delivering air and producing heat and power are designed by FuelCell Energy. The SOFC module is fuel flexible, capable of operating on a variety of fuels including coal syngas, natural gas, renewable biogas or directed biogas. The continuation of the SECA project will provide the basis for the larger stationary power plants which will take advantage of the fuel flexibility including coal.