These are exciting times at Independent Energy Partners Technology. Initial testing of the first prototype, a single stack module, has been completed. The testing to date has demonstrated that the Geothermic Fuel Cell (GFC) concept of using fuel cells to generate heat to convert kerogen to oil while producing valuable green electricity will work. The testing indicates that the fuel cells can provide sufficient heat to support the oil shale conversion process.
This validates the study that was conducted by the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL) to prove the technical viability of the concept. It has also validated the design direction of the overall system. Additional testing will be conducted over the next few months to further validate the control mechanisms.
Our philosophy at IEP is the application of existing technology in an unconventional way to extract value from unconventional resources. In our case, we are taking proven technologies, repackaging them and integrating them in such a way as to reduce the cost of heating the ground. Our first application is oil shale conversion and we have made significant progress lately. We began by working with PNNL to study the viability of using solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) to generate heat to convert the kerogen in oil shale to oil.
After a couple years of study, PNNL established that the concept was technically viable and proposed a design that could work. Rather than start from scratch and develop a purpose built GFC heater, we looked to industry leaders with products that were proven in their specific scope. This led to the relationship with Delphi Corporation for the SOFC hardware and the Colorado Fuel Cell Center at Colorado School of Mines for testing.
The design of the second prototype is complete and the manufacturing process has started. This unit is a 6ft long module integrated with multiple fuel cell stacks, all the interconnections and components needed for a full-scale system.