Project No: NT0004396
Performer: Pennsylvania State University


Shailesh Vora
Technology Manager
Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs)
National Energy Technology Laboratory
626 Cochrans Mill Road
P.O. Box 10940, MS 922-204
Pittsburgh, PA 15236-0940
(412) 386-7515

Joseph Stoffa
Project Manager
National Energy Technology Laboratory
3610 Collins Ferry Road
P.O. Box 880, MS P03B
Morgantown, WV 26507-0880
(304) 285-0285

Chunshan Song
Principal Investigator
Pennsylvania State University
EMS Energy Institute and Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering
C211 Coal Utilization Lab
University Park, PA 16802
(814) 863-4466

Award Date:  10/01/2008
Project Date:  09/30/2014

DOE Share: $3,734,954.00
Performer Share: $1,032,829.00
Total Award Value: $4,767,783.00

Performer website: Pennsylvania State University -

Advanced Energy Systems - Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

Solid Oxide Fuel Cells Operating on Alternative and Renewable Fuels

Project Description

The objectives of this Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) and Delphi project are to develop new fuel processing approaches for using select alternative and renewable fuels - commercial diesel fuel and anaerobic digester gas (ADG) - in solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) power generation systems, and to conduct integrated fuel processor-SOFC system tests to evaluate the performance of the fuel processors and overall systems.

Program Background and Project Benefits

This project assists the SOFCs program in meeting its cost and life targets by understanding the mechanisms that limit the reliability and durability of SOFC materials. The program will ultimately enable fuel cell-based near-zero emission coal plants with greatly reduced water requirements and the capability of capturing 97 percent or greater of carbon at costs not exceeding the typical cost of electricity available today. Achievement of this goal will have significant impact for the nation given the size of the market, expected growth in energy demand, and the age of the existing power plant fleet. It will also provide the technology base to enable grid-independent distributed generation applications. Federal funding support of this research is appropriate given the game changing nature of the technology, accompanied by risks higher than the private sector can accept.

Project Scope and Technology Readiness Level

Pennsylvania State University (PSU) will develop fuel processors for Anaerobic Digester Gas (ADG) and commercial diesel fuels, respectively, for integration with SOFC power generation systems. PSU will be responsible for the development of the adsorbent and reforming catalyst formulations, testing the adsorbents and reforming catalysts in laboratory flow reactor systems, the analytical characterization of trace level contaminants in the fuel processor reformate stream, and delivery of testing results. The fuel processor designs shall remove any harmful constituents from the fuels that may adversely affect SOFC performance, including the partial reformation of the fuel to remove higher hydrocarbon components. Additionally, inert components such as carbon dioxide may also be separated from the fuel stream. PSU will define the optimal fuel composition that supports the most effective fuel processing technology while maintaining adequate SOFC test platform performance.

The Technology Readiness Level (TRL) assessment identifies the current state of readiness of the key technologies being developed under the DOE’s Clean Coal Research Program. In FY 12, this project was not assessed.

The TRL assessment process and its results including definition and description of the levels may be found in the "2012 Technology Readiness Assessment-Analysis of Active Research Portfolio".