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Numerical analysis of an internal methane reforming solid oxide fuel cell with fuel recycling


  • Eveloy, Valérie


The development of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) systems capable of direct internal reforming (DIR) of methane is being actively pursued. However, a major challenge with current state-of-the-art nickel-based anodes is their propensity to form deteriorous carbon deposits in DIR, unless excess steam is introduced in the fuel. Reduced fuel humidification levels are desirable from the viewpoints of cell performance, reliability and plant economics. This study explores the use of partial recycling of the anode exhaust as a mitigation strategy against carbon deposits at fuel steam-to-carbon ratios less than unity. Using a detailed computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model which couples momentum, heat, mass and charge transport with electrochemical and chemical reactions, the spatial extent of carbon deposition within a SOFC anode is analyzed by accounting for both the cracking and Boudouard reactions, for several fuel humidification and recycling conditions. At temperatures of approximately 1173K and for inlet fuel molar H2O/CH4 ratios between 0.5 and 1, 50% (mass%) fuel recycling is found to be an effective strategy against carbon deposition. For lower recycling levels at the same fuel compositions, or lower fuel humidification levels (regardless of the recycling level), fuel recycling reduces the risk of coking, but does not eliminate it. The analyses presented suggest that recycling of the anodic fuel stream could help extend the operational range of DIR-SOFCs to lower fuel humidification levels than typically considered, with reduced risks of carbon deposits, while reducing system cost and complexity in terms of steam production. For dry or weakly humidified fuels, additional mitigation strategies would be required.

Suggested Citation

  • Eveloy, Valérie, 2012. "Numerical analysis of an internal methane reforming solid oxide fuel cell with fuel recycling," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 107-115.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:93:y:2012:i:c:p:107-115
    DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2010.10.045

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Santin, Marco & Traverso, Alberto & Magistri, Loredana, 2009. "Liquid fuel utilization in SOFC hybrid systems," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 86(10), pages 2204-2212, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Zaccaria, V. & Tucker, D. & Traverso, A., 2017. "Operating strategies to minimize degradation in fuel cell gas turbine hybrids," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 192(C), pages 437-445.
    2. Chen, Daifen & Zeng, Qice & Su, Shichuan & Bi, Wuxi & Ren, Zhiqiang, 2013. "Geometric optimization of a 10-cell modular planar solid oxide fuel cell stack manifold," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 1100-1107.
    3. Komatsu, Y. & Brus, G. & Kimijima, S. & Szmyd, J.S., 2014. "The effect of overpotentials on the transient response of the 300W SOFC cell stack voltage," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 352-359.
    4. Ribeirinha, P. & Abdollahzadeh, M. & Boaventura, M. & Mendes, A., 2017. "H2 production with low carbon content via MSR in packed bed membrane reactors for high-temperature polymeric electrolyte membrane fuel cell," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 409-419.
    5. repec:eee:appene:v:205:y:2017:i:c:p:822-833 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Wang, Baoxuan & Zhu, Jiang & Lin, Zijing, 2016. "A theoretical framework for multiphysics modeling of methane fueled solid oxide fuel cell and analysis of low steam methane reforming kinetics," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 1-11.
    7. Al-Masri, A. & Peksen, M. & Blum, L. & Stolten, D., 2014. "A 3D CFD model for predicting the temperature distribution in a full scale APU SOFC short stack under transient operating conditions," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 539-547.


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