Carbon deposition is a major cause of degradation in solid oxide fuel cell systems. The ability to predict carbon formation in reforming processes is thus absolutely necessary for stable operation of solid oxide fuel cell systems. In the open literature it is found that the steam input is always considered in large excess compared to what required by the reforming process with the purpose of reducing carbon formation and avoiding rapid degradation of the cell performance. This makes it difficult to consistently compare system performance with different fuels. In this work, the molar compositions at equilibrium are calculated for a minimum steam to carbon ratio for each fuel type. We carry out a thermodynamic analysis of fuel/steam system using Gibbs Free Energy minimization method. A mathematical relationship between Lagrange's multipliers and carbon activity in the gas phase was deduced. Minimum steam required for the reforming process for each fuel was related to the heat required for the reforming process and fuel cell open circuit voltage. Furthermore, in an experimental test, steam reforming product compositions were used to evaluate and compare SOFC performance with different hydrocarbons. Comparing the model to the experimental activity, it is revealed that at temperatures exceeding 800 °C the gas composition is dominated by hydrogen and carbon monoxide for any of the fuels considered leading to similar cell polarization curves performance for different fuels. The main effect on the performance is related to OCV values which are dependent on different steam content for each fuel. It was concluded that the magnitude of the heat requested for the fuel reforming process is the major difference in system performance when comparing different fuels. However, reforming kinetic effects can become predominant rather than thermodynamics, especially at lower temperatures.
Applied Thermal Engineering – Elsevier
Published: Apr 25, 2016
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