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Investigation of startup, performance and cycling of a residential furnace integrated with micro-tubular flame-assisted fuel cells for micro-combined heat and power

Milcarek, Ryan J., DeBiase, Vincent P., Ahn, Jeongmin
Energy 2020 v.196 pp. 117148
air, cathodes, combustion, cooling, electrochemistry, emissions, energy conservation, fuel cells, furnaces, heat, natural gas, nitrogen oxides, synthesis gas, temperature
Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) offer advantages for micro-Combined Heat and Power (μCHP), but currently suffer from slow startup (>1 h) and limited thermal cycling which reduces the applications, energy savings and economics. In this work, a micro-Tubular SOFC stack is integrated into a residential furnace to create a micro-Tubular Flame-assisted Fuel Cell (mT-FFC) μCHP system. A high power density of 202 mW cm⁻² is reported operating in synthesis gas generated from fuel-rich combustion of natural gas/air. Unlike previous reports, instabilities in the polarization are attributed to low temperature of the oxygen reduction reaction at the cathode. The mT-FFC stack achieved peak power density in 6 min after ignition. 200 thermal cycles at an average heating rate of 215 °C.min⁻¹ and average cooling rate of 176 °C.min⁻¹ were conducted and a low degradation rate of 0.0325 V per 100 cycles per fuel cell was achieved. Low NOₓ emissions (10 ppm) and high combined efficiency is reported.