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Super High-Efficiency Integrated Fuel-Cell and Turbo-Machinery - SHIFT

Saint-Gobain Ceramics and Plastics

Super High-efficiency Integrated Fuel-cell and Turbo-machinery - SHIFT

Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$2,145,497
Location: 
Northboro, MA
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: 
Saint-Gobain will combine a pressurized all-ceramic solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) stack with a custom-designed screw compressor and expander to yield a highly efficient SOFC and Brayton cycle hybrid system. In this configuration, the SOFC stack generates most of the system's electric power. The expander converts a portion of the stack's waste exergy to additional electric power. Saint-Gobain and its partners will integrate three enabling technologies: Saint-Gobain's robust all-ceramic SOFC stack, Brayton Energy LLC's rotary screw engine (compressor and expander), and Precision Combustion Inc.'s (PCI) SOFC-reformer integrated hotbox. Due to its monolithic nature, the all-ceramic stack enables high pressure, efficient operation, and long-term durability that may provide a 20-year life without stack replacement. Saint-Gobain will develop low-cost ceramic forming techniques to link to its multi-cell co-sintering process. The screw components developed in this program would eliminate the risk of pressure surges during operation. This is a common problem with conventional gas turbines, which can potentially damage SOFC stacks. Finally, PCI's unique hotbox will allow pressurized operation of the SOFC stack and maximize heat transfer and waste heat capture to minimize energy losses. This project will potentially introduce a new distributed, high durability, and enhanced lifetime electricity production system capable of 70% 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: 
Mr. Yuto Takagi
Partners
Brayton Energy
Precision Combustion, Inc.
Release Date: 
7/26/2017