solid oxide fuel cells

Imagine an efficient, combustion-less, virtually pollution-free power source capable of being sited in urban areas or in remote regions, running almost silently with few moving parts. It may sound like a vision of the future, but this technology is a reality and it exists today as solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs). 

NETL researchers are working to make SOFCs affordable, efficient, and an integral part of America’s energy picture for large-scale electricity generation. The challenge is to evolve fuel cell-based systems that are bigger, have more endurance and power density, and are cost-competitive relative to conventional technologies. 

Working with industry partners as part of the Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) program, NETL researchers target research to accelerate innovation and commercial production of fuel cells. In one project, NETL developed an approach to make SOFCs more durable and efficient along with a technique for mass production of the improved fuel cells using advanced manufacturing. The technology is currently being tested by SECA industry partners.  

NETL’s research is focused on advances critical to the commercialization of SOFC technology. Our researchers are improving cell power density, reducing long-term degradation, and developing more reliable and robust cells and stacks. They’re also investigating the technology at a system-level including design, scale-up, and integration of SOFC technology into modules that will ultimately serve as the building blocks for distributed generation, commercial, and utility-scale power systems. Collectively, NETL’s research efforts will yield SOFC power systems that may achieve efficiencies greater than 60 percent, with more than 97 percent carbon capture, near zero emissions, and minimal water consumption.