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On the Technology of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) Energy Systems for Stationary Power Generation: A Review


This paper presents a comprehensive overview on the current status of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) energy systems technology with a deep insight into the techno-energy performance. In recent years, SOFCs have received growing attention in the scientific landscape of high efficiency energy technologies. They are fuel flexible, highly efficient, and environmentally sustainable. The high working temperature makes it possible to work in cogeneration, and drive downstream bottomed cycles such as Brayton and Hirn/Rankine ones, thus configuring the hybrid system of a SOFC/turbine with very high electric efficiency. Fuel flexibility makes SOFCs independent from pure hydrogen feeding, since hydrocarbons can be fed directly to the SOFC and then converted to a hydrogen rich stream by the internal thermochemical processes. SOFC is also able to convert carbon monoxide electrochemically, thus contributing to energy production together with hydrogen. SOFCs are much considered for being supplied with biofuels, especially biogas and syngas, so that biomass gasifiers/SOFC integrated systems contribute to the “waste to energy” chain with a significant reduction in pollution. The paper also deals with the analysis of techno-energy performance by means of ad hoc developed numerical modeling, in relation to the main operating parameters. Ample prominence is given to the aspect of fueling, emphasizing fuel processing with a deep discussion on the impurities and undesired phenomena that SOFCs suffer. Constituent materials, geometry, and design methods for the balance of plant were studied. A wide analysis was dedicated to the hybrid system of the SOFC/turbine and to the integrated system of the biomass gasifier/SOFC. Finally, an overview of SOFC system manufacturing companies on SOFC research and development worldwide and on the European roadmap was made to reflect the interest in this technology, which is an important signal of how communities are sensitive toward clean, low carbon, and efficient technologies, and therefore to provide a decisive and firm impulse to the now outlined energy transition.

Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Italy

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