Direct Utilization of Coal Syngas in High Temperature Fuel Cells Email Page
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West Virginia University

Award Number:  FG02-06ER46299
Project Duration:  09/05/2006 – 12/31/2013
Total Award Value:  $6,631,048.00
DOE Share:  $3,450,000.00
Performer Share:  $3,181,048.00
Technology Area:  Solid Oxide Fuel Cells
Key Technology: 

Project Description

In this project WVU will identify the fundamental mechanisms of carbon deposition and coal contaminant poisoning of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs), and will develop novel materials to minimize the impact of these contaminants on fuel cell performance. The effects of trace contaminants found in coal will be characterized and remedies for any adverse effects proposed. The research will focus on the modeling, manufacture, and testing of SOFCs fueled by simulated coal gas.

Project Benefits

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is developing the next generation of efficient fossil fuel technologies capable of producing affordable electric power with near-zero emissions. The Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) program at DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is focused on developing low-cost, highly efficient SOFC power systems that are capable of simultaneously producing electric power, from either natural gas or coal, with carbon capture capabilities. Research is directed towards the technologies that are critical to the commercialization of SOFC technology. To successfully complete the development of SOFC technology from the present state to the point of commercial readiness, the SOFC Program efforts are aligned into three Key Technologies:

(1) Anode, Cathode, and Electrolyte (AEC) Development
(2) Atmospheric Pressure Systems
(3) Pressurized Systems

The AEC Development Key Technology is R&D in nature whereas the other two, Atmospheric Pressure Systems and Pressurized Systems, are focused on the development, demonstration, and deployment of SOFC power systems.

The Anode-Electrolyte-Cathode (AEC) Development Key Technology consists of projects that will lead to substantially improved power density, enhanced performance, reduced degradation rate, and more reliable and robust systems. Research is focused on the technologies critical to the commercialization of SOFC technology, such as cathode performance, gas seals, interconnects, failure analysis, coal contaminants, fuel processing, and balance-of-plant components. Research is conducted at universities, national laboratories, small businesses, and other R&D organizations.

This project focuses on characterizing the effects of impurities found in syngas, developing a model to predict SOFC life when operating on syngas, and developing contaminant-resistant anode materials. Improved cell/stack life and performance will reduce operating cost and increase efficiency, resulting in reduction in the cost of electricity and reduction of CO2 emissions from the entire platform. Specifically, this project will conduct accelerated anode exposure tests to syngas contaminants, build a model based on the experimental data to predict the lifetime of the anode operating on syngas, and design and develop alternative anode components that are contaminant tolerant.

Contact Information

Federal Project Manager 
Technology Manager 
Principal Investigator 


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