A fuel cell is an electrochemical device similar to a battery that converts chemically bound energy directly into energy. There are various types of fuel cells and the solid oxide type fuel cell has the advantage of a high operating temperature which results in a high exhaust temperature. Researchers in UCI’s Advanced Power and Energy Program have utilized this high exhaust temperature to maximize the power efficiency and quality via recycling gas through the SOFC system.
There are various types of fuel cells, each classified according to the type of electrolyte used in the cell. IN the solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC), the electrolyte consists of a solid, nonporous metal oxide. A major advantage of the SOFC over other types of fuel cells is its high exhaust temperature. Current SOFC’s operate near 1000° C with recent developments moving that figure towards 700° C.
In a fuel cell, there are losses that limit the conversion of fuel-bound energy to electricity due to i) irreversibilities due to heating and cooling of fuel products ii) entropy change and iii) irreversibilities caused by cell polarizations. The key design component to the UCI RGC-SOFC is that the cathode exhaust gas is utilized to performs heat removal while at the same time reduces the operating temperature of the recycle blower. By incorporating this improved process scheme, this conversion of heat energy to mechanical energy is increased thus further increasing the overall power plant thermal efficiency.
Small scale power generation as well as large scale central power generation.