M.S. Thesis Presentation by Patrick E. F. Reid
Monday, November 13, 2000

(Dr. William Wepfer, advisor)

"The Integration of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Technology into Industrial Power Generation Systems"


Conventional fossil-fired power generation systems employ combustion as the primary source of energy conversion process.  The high entropy production of combustion leads to relatively low efficiencies for the process.  Direct energy conversion methods are advantageous in this respect since they are capable of converting forms of energy without the high irreversibility, thus improving efficiency.  Solid oxide fuel cell technology is one example of a direct energy conversion process that is currently being investigated.  Recent developments have given indication that this might be the wave of the future for energy conversion systems.

Solid oxide fuel cells supply electric power directly from the conversion of synthetic gas.  Their high temperature (~1000ºC) operation proves ideal for the integration into industrial applications.  With all the advantageous of solid oxide fuel cells, the major deterrent at this point in the initial capital cost required for development.

The intent of this research will be to further investigate the integration of tubular solid oxide fuel cells in combined cycles.  The typical system uses a solid oxide fuel cell as the topping energy conversion method and high-efficiency combustion with a turbine as the bottoming cycle.  An integrated computer model will be developed to study the impact of the important design variables such as: pressures ratios and operation temperatures on system performance (power generation, cycle efficiency and heat available for cogeneration.)  The results of this parametric study will provide guidelines for designers when matching fuel cell/gas turbine combined cycles with specific applications.