Development of a fuel feeder for a solid oxide fuel cell test station

Johan Tallgren (Corresponding Author), Olivier Thomann, Matias Halinen, Olli Himanen, Jari Kiviaho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) can utilize various fuels, such as natural gas, hydrogen and biogas, but often, it is sensible to use a pre-reformer that converts the fuel into a hydrogen-rich gas stream. Relevant testing conditions, including the fuel to be used in SOFC systems, are important because cell performance depends on test conditions, such as fuel composition. Still, a majority of the reported single-cell and short stack tests are performed with pure hydrogen or synthetic reformate mixed from gas bottles. In this article, the development of a fuel feeder used to pre-reform natural gas for a single cell SOFC test station is presented. To mimic SOFC system conditions, natural gas is taken from the grid, desulfurized with commercial sulfur sorbent and reformed with a commercial precious metal catalyst. The fuel feeder is designed to be a versatile and efficient research tool, capable to be used in a wide temperature and gas flow range and with different reforming techniques, such as steam reforming, catalytic partial oxidation and simulated anode off-gas recycling. The construction, operation and characterization of the fuel feeder as well as methods of avoiding carbon formation are discussed. The performance is evaluated by comparing measured outlet temperatures and compositions against equilibrium values. All measured gas compositions matched closely with the calculated equilibrium values, and the identified deviations were small and to no harm in practical use. The operator can control the product gas composition by setting the fuel feeder heater to the temperature corresponding to the targeted composition. Results show that the fuel feeder design can be used as such for single-cell testing or scaled to fit larger stack test stations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2031-2041
JournalInternational Journal of Energy Research
Volume39
Issue number15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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Keywords

  • solid oxide fuel cell
  • precious metal catalyst
  • natural gas reforming
  • single cell testing
  • realistic test conditions

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