Coca Cola to Put Fuel Cells to Work at N.Y. Bottling Plant

Coca Cola to Put Fuel Cells to Work at N.Y. Bottling Plant

Coca Cola Enterprises signed a 10-year contract with UTC Power that will bring two fuel cells to its southern New York bottling plant.

The UTC Power fuel cells will produce heat and energy that can satisfy nearly a third of demand at Coca Cola’s bottling plant in Elmsford, N.Y. The project received $2 million in funds from the state’s Energy Research and Development Authority.   

South Windsor, Conn.-based UTC Power will retain ownership of the fuel cells, in addition to operating and maintaining them. The company began offering the 10-year energy services agreement a few years ago, according to company spokeswoman Peg Hashem.

“It’s helpful for those who don’t want to spend the capital upfront,” she said.

Fuel cells produce electricity, heat and water by combining hydrogen and oxygen in an electrochemical process. The PureCell 400 fuel cells to be deployed at Coca Cola’s bottling plant are more than twice as energy efficient as traditional power sources and can each generate up to 400 kW of electricity and up to 1.7 million Btu/hour of heat, according to company materials.
UTC Power's PureCell 400 can generate up to 400 kW of electricity and 1.7 million Btu/hour of heat Image courtesy of UTC Power
UTC Power, which is a unit of United Technologies Corp., has seen the most success with its energy services contract program in states that offer incentives, she said, such as California, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. There must also be access to natural gas.

Hashem believes the Coca Cola deal will be the fuel cell’s first application in a bottling plant when they are delivered next year. Coca Cola said in a prepared statement it plans to deploy fuel cells to other facilities in North America and Western Europe.

In addition to producing fuel cells for transportation applications, UTC Power has also installed more than 260 stationary fuel cells in 19 countries. Ideal sites for stationary fuel cells, Hashem said, should operate continuously. “It also makes the most sense when it is not only generating power, but can take waste heat and put it to work by heating the facility or running it through a chiller for cooling,” she said.

Previous sites include hospitals, data centers, hotels and supermarkets. For example, a Whole Foods Market in Dedham, Mass., will become the first supermarket in the state to use the PureCell 400 fuel cell to generate 90 percent of its power. The system will also produce almost all of the hot water used at the store when it begins operating later this year. The state provided a $400,000 grant for the project, which is also governed by an energy services contract.

Coca Cola bottle image CC licensed by Flickr user chrisvick.