Independent Energy Partners, Inc. successfully tested an initial single stack geothermic fuel cell™ (GFC) prototype, keeping them on track for field testing and initial oil production at a test site by mid 2015. The fuel cells will be used to heat underground oil shale formations in situ or in place. Testing confirms the fuel cells will be able to generate the high temperatures needed to extract both liquid and gas hydrocarbons from the oil shale while simultaneously generating clean electricity.
“This is a huge milestone for us as it confirms the concept and sets us nicely on the path toward full-scale prototype and field testing without any unexpected delays,” said Al Forbes, IEP’s President and CEO. “The Delphi team’s deep experience in solid oxide fuel cells certainly helped us meet this milestone confidently.”
IEP has put more than ten years into patenting, designing and developing the geothermic fuel cell technology using the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to help refine the concept and Delphi Corporation’s solid oxide fuel cell expertise to develop, build and test the GFC prototype.
Delphi Corporation was chosen to build the GFCs because of their expertise in solid oxide fuel cell technology and manufacturing capabilities. The partnership is already paying off with this successful first-round prototype passing both internal testing at Delphi and additional outside testing at the Colorado School of Mines Colorado Fuel Cell Center in preparation for the large-scale stack testing later this year.
“It’s exciting—especially in new clean technologies—to have such a successful first prototype,” said Dan Hennessy, chief engineer, Advanced Engineering, Delphi Powertrain Systems. “Our team is already working on assembling the next prototype and anticipating similar success when we test it later this year.”
Geothermic Fuel Cells will expedite nature’s underground heating process to turn kerogen into a producible, usable oil product. Current technologies require either surface mining and crushing the shale or using large amounts of coal-fired electricity to power heating rods inserted in a formation. IEP’s technology becomes self-fueling after brief start-up period. The natural byproduct of the fuel cell is heat, which heats the kerogen in the formation to a vapor that can be transported and collected above ground. Most of the electricity produced by the fuel cells is available as a clean, base load energy source for local utilities.
With US oil shale reserves estimated at more than 1.5 trillion barrels of oil that are not currently viable to recover, IEP’s technology stands to open huge energy reserves in the United States and abroad. The GFCs have many additional applications, including a growing interest in their use in landfill pyrolysis to both reduce landfill mass and create clean, base load energy for municipalities.
Field-testing is scheduled for early to mid 2015.
About Independent Energy Partners:
Independent Energy Partners (IEP) is a clean technology and resource company based in Denver, Colorado focused on the economic and environmentally responsible recovery of unconventional hydrocarbon resources utilizing its patented, breakthrough in-situ Geothermic Fuel Cell™(GFC™) system. IEP was founded in 1991 and has been involved in the development of more than 15 energy projects employing a wide range of technologies. The company holds exclusive rights to broad, patented GFC processes and technology in the U.S. and Canada as well as its own oil shale resources containing more than 2.0 billion barrels of oil. Patenting and technological development has been underway since 2004 and has been vetted by the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. IEP holds strategic partnerships with Total Petroleum, Uintah Resources, Inc., Delphi Corporation and Colorado School of Mines.
Delphi is a leading global supplier of electronics and technologies for automotive, commercial vehicle and other market segments. Operating major technical centers, manufacturing sites and customer support facilities in 32 countries, Delphi delivers real-world innovations that make products smarter and safer as well as more powerful and efficient.