Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) Technology
Solid oxide fuel cell's (SOFC's) have the potential to become a major source of electrical energy in the coming decades. It combines very high electrical efficiency (in the range 45-60%) with extremely low emissions of major local air pollutants (CO, NOx and unburnt hydrocarbons). It can be operated on a range of fuels, including pipeline natural gas and bio-mass. SOFC systems will be highly attractive for the distributed power market where units can be configured to meet a particular local power generation demand.
(1) Advanced Cell Fabrication Technology
MSRI has developed anode-supported fuel cells with very high power density amount of power measured in watts per square centimeter of surface area) by optimizing the microstructure of composite electrodes.
(2) Planar SOFC Stack Technology
The principal attributes of planar SOFC stack are high power densities and potentially low manufacturing costs. MSRI has demonstrated 1-3kW class SOFC power modules under various projects. Currently MSRI is developing a 3 kW air-independent SOFC stack for U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUV). This figure shows a 33-cell stack capable of delivering 1 kW of power at 800oC. The dimensions of the stack are 5.5” x 5.5” x 4.7” (W x L x H).
(3) Tubular SOFC Bundle Technology
The anode-supported tubular design can be subjected to numerous thermal cycles and can be rapidly heated (e.g., within a couple of minutes) without cracking. No hot seal is needed. MSRI has developed a 36-tube bundle for a 300W portable power unit under an Office of Naval Research project.
(4) Low Temperature SOFC Technology
SOFC operating at low temperature (400-600oC) would allow use of lower-cost materials for the balance of plant components. Lower temperature will facilitate thermal management in a small device, such as for portable applications. MSRI´s button and tubular cells with doped ceria electrolyte show excellent performance at temperatures of 500-650oC.
(5) Portable SOFC Systems
MSRI designed and fabricated the first fully integrated portable power system for DARPA that was also the first fully self-contained portable SOFC generator capable of thermally self sustaining power generation from liquid fuels.