DANBURY, Conn., Oct. 16, 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 that it will enter Phase II of the carbon capture development project under the previously announced award from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy's Carbon Capture Program (DOE) implemented by the National Energy Technology Laboratory. FuelCell Energy will continue research that evaluates the use of Direct FuelCells ® (DFC ®) to efficiently and cost effectively separate carbon dioxide (CO 2) from the emissions of coal fired power plants. This three and half year research project that began in late 2011 involves system design, cost analysis, and long-term testing of a Direct FuelCell® (DFC®) stack, with funding occurring in stages upon reaching certain progress milestones. Approximately $0.8 million from the total DOE award of $3 million was authorized to continue the development of the carbon capture system development based on DFC technology. This funding authorization follows favorable results achieved from the technology and economic analysis conducted in the initial stage of research. "The potential for efficient and cost effective carbon capture from our Direct FuelCell power plants illustrates the versatility of our technology," said Chip Bottone, President and Chief Executive Officer, FuelCell Energy, Inc. "This award enables us to further advance and refine our research as we pursue this opportunity that has the potential to favorably impact public health while providing FuelCell Energy with the possibility of a new and potentially large market opportunity." FuelCell Energy's DFC technology separates and concentrates CO 2 as a side reaction during the power generation process. In this application of the technology, the exhaust of a coal fired plant is directed to the air intake of a DFC power plant, which separates and concentrates the CO 2 in the exhaust for commercial use or sequestration. Another side reaction that occurs when the fuel cell is used in this application is the destruction of some of the nitrogen oxide (NO x) emissions in coal plant streams as the exhaust passes through the fuel cell. This reduces the cost of NO x removal equipment for coal-fired power plant operators. Since DFC power plants produce power efficiently and with virtually zero emissions, the net result is a very attractive solution to prevent the release of green-house gases by coal-fired power plants while simultaneously increasing the net efficiency and power output of the plant. Additional benefits include reduction of the operating cost related to removal of NO x and reduction in water usage as existing carbon capture technologies are water intensive. Conventional technologies used for the capture of CO 2 from the emissions of coal fired power plants are energy-intensive with high operating costs. Most of the existing carbon capture technologies penalize the power plant output by as much as 30 percent. For these reasons, the DOE's Carbon Capture Program seeks advanced technologies that reduce the cost and energy requirements for the capture of CO 2 from coal fired power plants. DFC power plants potentially represent an efficient and cost effective approach to separating CO 2 while generating ultra-clean power rather than consuming power. Partners in the project include Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, Washington and URS Corporation, Austin, Texas.