Danbury's FuelCell Energy is teaming with ExxonMobil on an ambitious project to convert carbon dioxide emissions into energy.

FuelCell Energy and ExxonMobil will pilot their unique fuel cell carbon capture technology at an Alabama gas-and-coal power plant.

The project will test carbon capture from natural gas-fired power generation under an agreement between the two companies, and coal-fired power generation under an agreement between FuelCell Energy and the U.S. Department of Energy.

While other carbon capture technologies exist, Exxon Mobil and FuelCell Energy say this project has the potential to reduce emissions substantially in an affordable way.

"We're trying to solve a very, very large problem with huge implications," FuelCell Energy President and CEO Chip Bottone told the Houston Chronicle.

“The fuel cell carbon capture solution we are advancing with ExxonMobil could be a game-changer in affordably reducing carbon dioxide emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants globally."

We're trying to solve a very, very large problem with huge implications.
— FuelCell Energy's Chip Bottone
The technology uses carbonate fuel cells to convert methane and carbon dioxide into electricity and concentrated carbon dioxide.

The concentrated carbon dioxide could then be captured and injected underground.

The fuel cell technology is cheaper and generates additional electricity, as opposed to existing carbon capture technologies that consume power and are cost prohibitive, said Vijay Swarup, Exxon Mobil vice president for research and development.

"You're attaching a power plant on the back of a power plant," he said.

"What makes this fuel cell unique is it can accept CO2 as a feedstock."

Results from the natural gas pilot test will help guide engineering studies for potential construction of a standalone pilot plant to test the technology on a larger scale, the companies said.

Two-thirds of the four trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity generated in the U.S. in 2015 originated from coal and natural gas.