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De-Coupled Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Gas Turbine Hybrid (dFC-GT)

Washington State University (WSU)

De-Coupled Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Gas Turbine Hybrid (dFC-GT)

Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$749,595
Location: 
Pullman, WA
Project Term: 
08/02/2018 to 08/01/2020
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 our electrical grid, ultimately netting a delivered efficiency of 34%. Ultra-high electrical efficiency (>70%) distributed generation systems, such as those synergistically combining fuel cells and engines, can lower the cost and environmental burdens associated with providing electricity. These hybrid systems convert natural gas or renewable fuels into electricity at substantially higher efficiencies and with lower emissions than typically achievable. At the component and system levels, however, these hybrid technologies face challenges such as the successful low-loss integration of fuel cells with engine-based waste recovery cycles, the systems' capital cost, and fuel cell stack durability.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Washington State University will develop a hybrid power system using a high-pressure, high-temperature fuel cell stack and gas turbine. The project will examine the benefits of a decoupled design, in which the fuel cell stack and gas turbine components are not directly connected within the hybrid system. The team's other primary innovation is the integration of a membrane to concentrate oxygen from air supplied by the turbine before feeding it into the fuel cell, which avoids pressurizing the entire air feed stream, improving performance and boosting efficiency. The pressurized solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) and a micro gas turbine (mGT) are physically separated by the ceramic oxygen transport membrane (OTM), which prevents the SOFC from being exposed to damaging pressure surges from the mGT. In this way, the decoupled system allows the individual components to contribute synergistically to the high-efficiency, cost-effective hybrid power generation system. By combining the efficiency of pressurized SOFC operation using natural gas and pure oxygen fuel with a microturbine in a decoupled configuration, the team hopes to achieve 75% fuel-to-electric efficiency.
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. Dustin McLarty
Partners
Saint-Gobain Ceramics and Plastics, Inc.
Release Date: 
7/26/2017