Energy from Biomass needs highly efficient small-scale energy systems in order to achieve cost effective solutions for decentralized generation especially in Mediterranean and Southern areas, and for applications without adequate heat consumer. Thus fuel cells are an attractive option for decentralized generation from biomass and agricultural residues but they have to meet at least two outstanding challenges: 1. Fuel cell materials and the gas cleaning technologies have to treat high dust loads of the fuel gas and pollutants like tars, alkalines and heavy metals. 2. The system integration has to allow efficiencies of at least 40-50 percent even within a power range of few tens or hundreds of kW. This proposal addresses in particular these two aims. Hence the first part of the project will focus on the investigation of the impact of these pollutants on degradation and performance characteristics of SOFC fuel cells in order to specify the requirements for appropriate gas cleaning system (WP 1-2). These tests will be performed at six existing gasification sites, which represent the most common and applicable gasification technologies. WP 3 will finally test and demonstrate the selected gas cleaning technologies in order to verify the specifications obtained from the gasification tests. The results will be used for the development, installation and testing of an innovative SOFC - Gasification concept, which will especially match the particular requirements of fuel cell systems for the conversion of biomass feedstock. The innovative concept comprises to heat an allothermal gasifier with the exhaust heat of the fuel cell by means of liquid metal heat pipes. Internal cooling of the stack and the recirculation of waste heat increases the system efficiency significantly. This so-called TopCycle concept promises electrical efficiencies of above 50 percent even for small-scale systems without any combined processes.
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