Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Adaptive SOFC for Ultra High Efficiency Power Systems

FuelCell Energy

Adaptive SOFC for Ultra High Efficiency Power Systems

Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$3,099,612
Location: 
Danbury, CT
Project Term: 
08/15/2018 to 08/14/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
In 2015, two-thirds of U.S. electricity was derived from fossil fuels. This electricity was then distributed through the electrical grid, ultimately netting a delivered efficiency of 34%. Ultra-high electrical efficiency (>70%) distributed generation systems, such as those that combine fuel cells and engines, can lower the cost and environmental burdens of providing this electricity. These hybrid systems convert natural gas or renewable fuels into electricity at substantially higher efficiencies and lower emissions than traditional systems. At the component and system levels, however, these hybrid technologies face challenges including the low-loss integration of fuel cells with engine-based waste recovery cycles, capital cost, and fuel cell stack durability.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
FuelCell Energy will develop an adaptive, pressurized solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) for use in hybrid power systems. Hybridized power generation systems, combining energy efficient SOFCs with a microturbine or internal combustion (IC) engine, offer a path to high efficiency distributed generation from abundant natural gas. Proof-of-concept systems have shown the potential of this hybrid approach, but component optimization is necessary to increase system efficiencies and reduce costs. Existing SOFC stacks are relatively expensive components, and improving their efficiency and robustness would enhance the overall commercial viability of these systems. This team's approach is to focus directly on improving SOFCs with hybrid integration as their end goal. Their adaptive cells will withstand the necessary pressure fluctuations, and the compact stack design aims to make the best use of heat transfer while minimizing leakage losses and maintaining high performance. The team will take a modular approach, building 2-5kW stacks that can be grouped together in a pressurized container. These modules can be added or removed as needed to suit the scale of the hybrid system, enabling a range of power applications. The baseline cell technology will also be modified through advanced materials that extend the useful life of stack and mitigate the harmful effects of contaminants on fuel cell performance. If successful, these adaptive, efficient, robust SOFCs could provide a path to greater than 70% efficiency when integrated into a hybrid system.
Potential Impact: 
The INTEGRATE program is developing a new class of distributed and ultra-efficient (>70%) fuel to electric power conversion systems for commercial and industrial customers.
Security: 
Distributed electrical generation systems can produce highly reliable electric power supplies.
Environment: 
High electric efficiency and decreased reliance on combustion would result in lower greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions.
Economy: 
These systems' high efficiency and avoidance of electric grid transmission and distribution costs offer the potential for lower cost electric power.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. David Tew
Project Contact: 
Dr. Hossein Ghezel-Ayagh
Release Date: 
7/26/2017