General Electric Building Fuel Cell Pilot Factory in New York

Jul 22, 2014 5:19 pm ET

July 22 (Bloomberg) -- General Electric Co. opened a fuel- cell testing and research facility in upstate New York that will produce its first systems by the end of the year.

GE has developed a solid-oxide fuel cell that converts about 65 percent of the energy in natural gas to electricity through a chemical reaction, the Fairfield, Connecticut-based company said today on its website.

When waste heat from the system is used to power a steam turbine, GE researchers expect to boost the efficiency level to about 95 percent, Megan Parker, a spokeswoman, said in an interview today. The systems can reach temperatures of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit (816 degrees Celsius).

GE’s 17-member fuel-cell team is planning a pilot factory in Saratoga Springs, New York, and expects to begin commercial production in 2017, Parker said. The systems will have capacities ranging from one megawatt to 10 megawatts, depending on the configuration.