High Performance Metal-Supported SOFC System for Range Extension of Commercial Aviation

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Lafayette, Louisiana
Project Term:
03/15/2021 - 09/14/2023

Technology Description:

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette will design and optimize an energy storage and power generation (ESPG) system for aircraft propulsion. The proposed system will consist of optimally sized fuel-to-electric power conversion devices—metal-supported solid oxide fuel cells (MS-SOFCs) and turbogenerators—using carbon-neutral synfuel. Batteries will also be used to provide suitable electrical power to the aircraft through all phases of a flight. The design concept will ensure adequate propulsive thrust and system power for a future airplane configuration by optimizing the ESPG and component performance, especially the synfuel-powered MS-SOFC. During this Phase 1 effort, the team will select materials for all fuel cell components and interlayers and use innovative fabrication techniques to develop and test high-performance, ultra-low weight, and low-cost MS-SOFC stacks. They will also develop reforming catalysts for synfuel and biojet fuel. The team aims to demonstrate a 1-kW MS-SOFC prototype and design a 5 kW MS-SOFC prototype by the end of Phase 1.

Potential Impact:

Electrified aviation propulsion systems have the potential to achieve ultra-high fuel-to-propulsive power conversion efficiencies compared with existing turbofan and turboprop systems.


This program could ensure U.S. technology leadership in ultra-high efficiency aircraft propulsion systems capable of exploiting CNLFs.


A high specific power electrified propulsion system framework could enable net-zero carbon aviation by facilitating the transition to carbon neutral liquid fuels (CNLFs) while meeting all mission requirements.


The developed ESPG sub-system could provide the foundational technology for a new industry in ultra-high efficiency propulsion systems while improving the competitiveness of the existing air transportation industry by reducing fuel costs.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. James Seaba
Project Contact:
Xiao-Dong Zhou
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


NexTech Materials, Ltd. dba Nexceris, LLC
Idaho National Laboratory

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