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Development of an advanced 1kW solid oxide fuel cell prototype


Development of a module of 30 W with a power density of 1 KW per m2 cell surface. This module will be the basic building block for a 1 KW SOFC unit.
A prototype demonstration of a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) generator in the 500 W class was prepared. The work included the development and characterization of novel ceramic materials, the construction of SOFC modules and of a test generator system, tests and design studies for methane reforming in the system, mathematical modelling of the SOFC stack, system studies, cost calculations and market research.

A construction concept for SOFC modules was proposed and executed which was designed for the exclusive use of ceramic mass production technologies with the potential of low costs: extrusion, tape casting, tape calendering, screen printing and others.

Module test data were obtained mostly with single cell modules which comprise all the functional elements of multicell modules, in special the interconnection elements. Maximum power densities of up to 1.6 kW/m{2} were obtained (maximum power per active area, 1000 C, hydrogen versus air). A value of 1.2 kW/m{2} was established for standard manufacturing conditions. Long time tests were extended to over 2000 hours and showed good stability beyond an initial power decay of 15% to 20% of the maximum. The modules withstood up to three thermal cycles (1000 C - room temperature) without significant loss of performance.

Multicell modules up to the size of 16 cells were manufactured and tested. The assembling technique was transferred to larger units without affecting their mechanical integrity. The power densities decreased to 1.1 kW/m{2} for modules with four cells and to 0.65 kW/m{2} (11 W) for the best 16-cell module.

The applicability of stack construction and fabrication techniques was demonstrated. A technical production, however, requires more fundamental studies on materials and processing. A novel construction concept was devised during the work and is being developed further in the framework of the JOULE II programme.

Small scale industrial cogeneration of heat and power (CHP) with capacities below 200 kWe and steam raising capability was identified as a market opportunity for the SOFC. Domestic CHP was investigated as a second market niche. This application has the potential to enable the market entry of the SOFC with very small unit sizes in the order of one kW.
This project is a follow-up of project JOUE-0027 which terminated on 31-10-1991 and aimed at the development of a 1 KW ceramic flat plate SOFC unit. In this project the major effort was focussed on the development of a cell module which is to be a building block for a 1 KW SOFC unit. In addition the peripheral system to accept the ceramic modules has been designed and constructed.

In this follow-up project work on the module will be continued.

The main points of further development are :

Construction of modules with a power density of 1 KW/m2 and with a long-term stability (module operation of 1000 hrs) (ABB, ICI)
Testing of the system in particular thermal stress and modelling validation (ABB and BRITISH GAS)
Performance improvement potential, e.g; anodes and cathodes design optimization (ABB, RISOE, TNO)
Indentification of the requirements of the SOFC market (BRITISH GAS)

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


Asea Brown Boveri AG
Eppelheimer Straße 82
69123 Heidelberg

Participants (4)

British Gas plc
United Kingdom
Watson House Research Station Peterborough Road
SW6 3HN London
Imperial Chemical Industries plc (ICI)
United Kingdom
SW1P 3JF London
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek
1780 AB Den Helder
Frederiksborgvej 399