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Heat-controlled operation of a 200 KW phosphoric acid fuel cell using natural gas with varying properties


Fuel cells are efficient and clean electricity generators based on electrochemistry. Of the various types of fuel cell, phosphoric acid fuel cells (PAFC) are closest to the market, particularly with natural gas as starting fuel. Improved heat management can further improve the efficiency of PAFC.

The objective of this project is to examine the heat-controlled operation of a 200 kW PAFC as a combined heat and power (CHP) plant using natural gas with varying properties. The aim is to develop standard strategies and sensors needed for testing the heat-controlled operation of the PAFC and to investigate the plant's dynamic behaviour, which is important for grid independent operation.

Investigation of the thermal behaviour of the 200 kW PAFC as a function of electrical capacity, supply temperature, return temperature and flow rate of the heat transfer medium to tailor heat controlled operation to the user's specific requirements.

Automatic adaptation of parameters governing the reforming process in a PAFC to attain optimum energy efficiency by either on-line measurement of gas components using a gas chromatograph, with subsequent automatic computation and adaptation of parameters by means of specific computer programs or by developing gas sensor to detect changes in gas properties, specifically LPG/air admixture and an analyzing unit geared to the requirements of fuel cell technology.

Examination of dynamic behaviour of emissions and Heat and Material Balances: Dynamic behaviour is primarily determined by the reformer, whose thermal capacity has the greatest impact on the rate of adaptation of H2 production to the desired electrical output. In order to optimize heat removal it is necessary to examine the interplay of the components incorporated in the water/steam cycle. On the basis of energy and material balances, potential for improving individual components is to be identified.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


Ruhrgas AG
Halterner Straße 125
46284 Dorsten

Participants (3)

Gastec NV
7327 AC Apeldoorn
Nederlandse Gasunie NV
102,Lean Corpus Den Hoorn
9700 MA Groningen
Stadtwerke Bochum GmbH
Massenberg Straße 15-17
44722 Bochum