Premixed safety gas is conventionally used to keep the anode of a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) under reducing conditions during heat-up. This article presents the results of an experimental study to heat up a SOFC system and stack without the said premixed safety gases, i.e. by utilizing a natural gas pre-reformer and anode off-gas recycling (AOGR). Firstly, ex-situ experiments were conducted to investigate the operability of a pre-reformer during system heat-up. It was found that any oxygen fed to the reformer hinders the reforming reactions at low temperatures. Secondly, based on the ex-situ findings, series of heat-up cycles were conducted with a complete 10 kW system using AOGR and a planar SOFC stack. In these experiments it was found that the system heat-up is possible with fuel gas and steam only, without the need for premixed reducing safety gases. Use of the fuel gas instead of a premixed safety gas did not result in a significant performance loss in the SOFC stack. Therefore, such a heat-up strategy was developed for SOFC systems that reduces the need of premixed safety gas storage space and thus decreases the system cost.
- anode off-gas recycling
- solid oxide fuel cell