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Advanced Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Stack for Hybrid Power Systems

Nexceris

Advanced Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Stack for Hybrid Power Systems

Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$2,150,356
Location: 
Lewis Center, OH
Project Term: 
05/24/2018 to 05/23/2020
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: 
Nexceris will develop a compact, ultra-high efficiency solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) stack tailored for 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 and improving their efficiency and robustness would enhance the overall commercial viability of these systems. Nexceris' SOFC stack design includes a patented high performance planar cell design and a novel anode current collector that that provides structural support to each cell during pressurized operation, helps define the flow of fuel gas through the stack, and improves control over the reaction of natural gas in the cell, and a sealing approach that facilitates pressurized stack operation. If successful, this stack design will result in increased performance and durability at reduced cost. The 10-kW-scale cell stack building blocks will be housed within a hermetically sealed "hotbox" to reduce drastic changes in temperature and pressure during operation. These design features would allow for seamless integration with a turbine or combustion engine to maximize the overall efficiency of 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. Scott Swartz
Release Date: 
7/26/2017