Research Papers

A Thermally Self-Sustaining Miniature Solid Oxide Fuel Cell

[+] Author and Article Information
Jeongmin Ahn

School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164

Paul D. Ronney

Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089

Zongping Shao

College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Nanjing University of Technology, Nanjing, 210009 Jiangsu, PRC

Sossina M. Haile

Materials Science and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 6(4), 041004 (Aug 11, 2009) (4 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3081425 History: Received April 25, 2007; Revised August 07, 2008; Published August 11, 2009

A thermally self-sustaining miniature power generation device was developed utilizing a single-chamber solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) placed in a controlled thermal environment provided by a spiral counterflow “Swiss roll” heat exchanger and combustor. With the single-chamber design, fuel/oxygen crossover due to cracking of seals via thermal cycling is irrelevant and coking on the anode is practically eliminated. Appropriate SOFC operating temperatures were maintained even at low Reynolds numbers (Re) via combustion of the fuel cell effluent at the center of the Swiss roll. Both propane and higher hydrocarbon fuels were examined. Extinction limits and thermal behavior of the integrated system were determined in equivalence ratio—Re parameter space and an optimal regime for SOFC operation were identified. SOFC power densities up to 420mW/cm2 were observed at low Re. These results suggest that single-chamber SOFCs integrated with heat-recirculating combustors may be a viable approach for small-scale power generation devices.

Copyright © 2009 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

(a) Ceramic Swiss roll reactor in an experimental stand with the top plate removed and (b) schematic of the experimental configuration showing the placement of fuel cell and the location of effluent combustion zone with Pt catalyst

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Figure 2

Single-chamber solid oxide fuel cell

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Figure 3

Impact of fuel cell orientation relative to the hot zone in the Swiss roll reactor on electrical power output as measured for SSC-based fuel cell at T=480°C, C3H8:O2=1:2, and Re=65

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Figure 4

Polarization and power density curves for SSC-based fuel cell at T=555°C, C4H10:O2=1:2, and Re=80

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Figure 5

Peak power density of SSC-based fuel cells as a function of temperature for C4H10:O2=1:2 and Re=76 to Re=89

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Figure 6

Peak power density of SSC-based fuel cells as a function of reactant mixture composition at T=550°C and Re=74 to Re=92

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Figure 7

Polarization and power density curves for BSCF-based fuel cell at T=550°C, C3H8:O2=1:1.54, and Re=85

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Figure 8

Peak power density of BSCF-based fuel cells as a function of reactant mixture composition at T=550°C and Re=76 to Re=94



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