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Title: Techno-Economic Analysis of Scalable Coal-Based Fuel Cells

Researchers at The University of Akron (UA) have demonstrated the technical feasibility of a laboratory coal fuel cell that can economically convert high sulfur coal into electricity with near zero negative environmental impact. Scaling up this coal fuel cell technology to the megawatt scale for the nation’s electric power supply requires two key elements: (i) developing the manufacturing technology for the components of the coal-based fuel cell, and (ii) long term testing of a kW scale fuel cell pilot plant. This project was expected to develop a scalable coal fuel cell manufacturing process through testing, demonstrating the feasibility of building a large-scale coal fuel cell power plant. We have developed a reproducible tape casting technique for the mass production of the planner fuel cells. Low cost interconnect and cathode current collector material was identified and current collection was improved. In addition, this study has demonstrated that electrochemical oxidation of carbon can take place on the Ni anode surface and the CO and CO2 product produced can further react with carbon to initiate the secondary reactions. One important secondary reaction is the reaction of carbon with CO2 to produce CO. We found CO and carbon can be electrochemically oxidized simultaneously insidemore » of the anode porous structure and on the surface of anode for producing electricity. Since CH4 produced from coal during high temperature injection of coal into the anode chamber can cause severe deactivation of Ni-anode, we have studied how CH4 can interact with CO2 to produce in the anode chamber. CO produced was found able to inhibit coking and allow the rate of anode deactivation to be decreased. An injection system was developed to inject the solid carbon and coal fuels without bringing air into the anode chamber. Five planner fuel cells connected in a series configuration and tested. Extensive studies on the planner fuels and stack revealed that the planner fuel cell stack is not suitable for operation with carbon and coal fuels due to lack of mechanical strength and difficulty in sealing. We have developed scalable processes for manufacturing of process for planner and tubular cells. Our studies suggested that tubular cell stack could be the only option for scaling up the coal-based fuel cell. Although the direct feeding of coal into fuel cell can significantly simplify the fuel cell system, the durability of the fuel cell needs to be further improved before scaling up. We are developing a tubular fuel cell stack with a coal injection and a CO2 recycling unit.« less
  1. Univ. of Akron, OH (United States)
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
The University of Akron, OH (United States)
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Country of Publication:
United States