Utilization of Hydrocarbon Fuels in Low-Temperature Solid Oxide Fuel Cells
Department of Energy
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Small Business Information
Applied Thin Films, Inc.
1801 Maple Avenue, Suite 5316, Evanston, IL, 60201
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Abstract60633 Fuel cells are widely viewed as the most desirable future power generation method, because of their unique combination of high efficiency, low emissions, size flexibility, and quiet operation. Despite these unique features, the high cost of fuel cells compared with competing technologies has prevented commercial introduction. One of the key factors that increases fuel cell power plant cost and complexity is the typically poor fuel flexibility, i.e. fuel cells generally operate only on hydrogen. This project will demonstrate technology to allow low-temperature solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) to operate directly and efficiently on hydrocarbon fuels including natural gas, propane, and gasoline. Phase I developed new anode materials that effectively oxidize hydrocarbons at fuel cell operating temperatures ranging from 500-800¿C. Specifically, different anodes were found to be most suitable for use with the different fuels studied; i.e., methane and propane. The new anodes were successfully demonstrated in single fuel cells. Phase II will demonstrate a simple SOFC stack that directly utilizes a range of hydrocarbon fuels. The low-cost fabrication methods developed in Phase I will be scaled up to make large-area, thin-electrolyte SOFCs, and a novel stack design will be implemented. Long term cell stability and susceptibility to sulfur contamination will be addressed, and anode compositions will be refined to optimize performance. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by the awardee: The technology should impact the commercialization of fuel cells, currently being developed for medium-scale generation applications, by simplifying the system and reducing costs. Additional commercial markets include home generators (natural gas), remote generation and portable electronics power supplies (propane), and auxiliary power units for transportation (gasoline)
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