Optimal Design and Operation of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Systems for Small-scale Stationary Applications
Braun, Robert J.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
MetadataShow full item record
The advent of maturing fuel cell technologies presents an opportunity to achieve significant improvements in energy conversion efficiencies at many scales; thereby, simultaneously extending our finite resources and reducing "harmful" energy-related emissions to levels well below that of near-future regulatory standards. However, before realization of the advantages of fuel cells can take place, systems-level design issues regarding their application must be addressed. Using modeling and simulation, the present work offers optimal system design and operation strategies for stationary solid oxide fuel cell systems applied to single-family detached dwellings. A one-dimensional, steady-state finite-difference model of a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) is generated and verified against other mathematical SOFC models in the literature. Fuel cell system balance-of-plant components and costs are also modeled and used to provide an estimate of system capital and life cycle costs. The models are used to evaluate optimal cell- stack power output, the impact of cell operating and design parameters, fuel type, thermal energy recovery, system process design, and operating strategy on overall system energetic and economic performance. Optimal cell design voltage, fuel utilization, and operating temperature parameters are found using minimization of the life cycle costs. System design evaluations reveal that hydrogen- fueled SOFC systems demonstrate lower system efficiencies than methane-fueled systems. The use of recycled cell exhaust gases in process design in the stack periphery are found to produce the highest system electric and cogeneration efficiencies while achieving the lowest capital costs. Annual simulations reveal that efficiencies of 45% electric (LHV basis), 85% cogenerative, and simple economic paybacks of 5-8 years are feasible for 1-2 kW SOFC systems in residential-scale applications. Design guidelines that offer additional suggestions related to fuel cell-stack sizing and operating strategy (base-load or load-following and cogeneration or electric-only) are also presented.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Wisconsin--Madison, 2002.
Dissertations Academic Mechanical Engineering.
University of Wisconsin--Madison. College of Engineering.