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10 kW demonstration of pilot stack technology for Direct Internal Reforming Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell (DIR-MCFC) power plants


Molten Carbonate Fuel Cells (MCFC) need hydrogen, obtained, for example, from steam reforming of natural gas, to produce electricity at high temperatures. When equipped with a direct internal reformer (DIR), their waste heat can be reused to convert natural gas into hydrogen, leading to a large reduction in cost and an improvement of the overall efficiency. The feasibility of a 1 kW DIR-MCFC was established in a previous project. In this project, the concept will be scaled-up to 10 kW for electricity production or co-generation.

As a result of this scale-up, proper specifications for DIR-MCFC power plants in the sub-MW range can be achieved and efficiency and lifetime realistically estimated.

The development of the DIR-MCFC stack technology will be carried out in 2 projects in parallel.

One of the projects, an ECN project, deals with the design and manufacturing development of separator plates and stack hardware. The other one (JOULE project) attends to perform the necessary experiments and demonstration tests, to extend the service life of the stack (catalyst research) and to perform supporting activities (system studies and modelling).

Models for cell and stack behaviour will be developed (ECN) to support system studies and analysis of cell and stack experiments. System studies (BG) will yield insight in the optimal configuration for sub-MegaWatt IR plants, assess plant efficiencies, specify operating conditions and identify further system development items. Catalyst research will address the catalyst deactivation process (BG) and the carbonate transport mechanism (BG, CNR) to ascertain appropriate selection of catalysts and to suppress the carbonate transport by hardware modifications and operational conditions. Cell experiments (ECN, BG, CNR) and stack experiments (ECN) will be carried out to support the development. The stack test program will be concluded by :

- a demonstration of the developed technology in a 10 kW stack test (about l/3 m2 cell area),
- a demonstration of the effect of modified hardware and operating conditions on performance degradation in an endurance test of a 1 kW stack with 0.1 m2 cells.

Separator plates, porous components and other hardware for the stack test program will be manufactured by ECN.

Expected Results :

- specification of DIR-MCFC power plants in the sub-MW range, - realistic predictions for the efficiency of DIR-MCFC plants, - performance degradation characteristics for lifetime estimates of DIR stacks,
- demonstration of the developed technology in a 10 kW stack test.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


Westerduinweg 3

Participants (2)

British Gas plc
United Kingdom
Midlands Research Station Wharf Lane
B91 2JW Solihull
Via Salita Santa Lucia Sopra Contesse 5
98126 Messina