349510 Solid Oxide and Direct Carbon Fuel Cell Design, Structure, and Operation

Monday, November 4, 2013
Grand Ballroom B (Hilton)
Christopher J. Gates, John W. Zondlo, Andrew Radcliffe and Matthew Tacker, Chemical Engineering, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV

Fuel cells are being developed as a new way to generate electricity that has both higher efficiencies and sustainability. Two types of fuel cells that are currently being explored at WVU for alternative energy are solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) and direct carbon fuel cells (DCFCs).  While both use redox reactions to create electron flow, SOFCs use gaseous fuels (mainly hydrogen) and DCFCs use biologically-derived fuels such as poplar, switch grass, and corn stover. Both cell configurations are planar, with multilayer cathodes and anodes supported by a yttria stabilized zirconia electrolyte. SOFCs are tested using hydrogen gas, and these cells are the precursor to DCFCs and could help provide insight into improving the DCFC design. While anode designs in the DCFC will be altered to accommodate solid-state fuels, the DCFC components and fabrication steps will remain the same as for the SOFC. Open circuit voltage, varying current, and static load tests are used for performance evaluation. Currently, our studies have shown that SOFCs made in-house and fed with hydrogen have around 145 mW/cm­­­­­­2 maximum power density and can load up to 600mA/cm2. For the DCFC tests, various catalysts, anode designs, and inert gasses could be used in the future to optimize the power output. The ultimate goal for the biologically-fueled cells is to design and fabricate anode supported structures which will yield higher outputs from the sustainable fuel sources.

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