This article presents a critical mini-review of research conducted on bioelectrochemical reactors with emphasis placed on microbial fuel cells (MFC) and microbial electrolysis cells (MEC). The principle of operation and typical constructions of MFCs and MECs were presented. The types of anodes and cathodes, ion-selective membranes and microorganisms used were discussed along with their limitations.
The article presents a zero-dimensional mathematical model of a tubular fuel cell and its verification on four experiments. Despite the fact that fuel cells are still rarely used in commercial applications, their use has become increasingly more common. Computational Flow Mechanics codes allow to predict basic parameters of a cell such as current, voltage, combustion composition, exhaust temperature, etc. Precise models are particularly important for a complex energy system, where fuel cells cooperate with gas, gas-steam cycles or ORCs and their thermodynamic parameters affect those systems. The proposed model employs extended Nernst equation to determine the fuel cell voltage and steadystate shifting reaction equilibrium to calculate the exhaust composition. Additionally, the reaction of methane reforming and the electrochemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen have been implemented into the model. The numerical simulation results were compared with available experiment results and the differences, with the exception of the Tomlin experiment, are below 5%. It has been proven that the increase in current density lowers the electrical efficiency of SOFCs, hence fuel cells typically work at low current density, with a corresponding efficiency of 45–50% and with a low emission level (zero emissions in case of hydrogen combustion).
The paper describes a fuel cell based system and its performance. The system is based on two fuel cell units, DC/DC converter, DC/AC inverter, microprocessor control unit, load unit, bottled hydrogen supply system and a set of measurement instruments. In the study presented in the paper a dynamic response of the proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell system to unit step change load as well as to periodical load changing cycles in the form of semi-sinusoidal and trapezoidal signals was investigated. The load was provided with the aid of an in-house-developed electronic load unit, which was fully PC controlled. The apparatus was commissioned by testing the steady-state operation of the module. The obtained efficiency of the fuel cell shows that the test apparatus used in the study provides data in substantial agreement with the manufacturer’s data.
The direct carbon fuel cell technology provides excellent conditions for conversion of chemical energy of carbon-containing solid fuels directly into electricity. The technology is very promising since it is relatively simple compared to other fuel cell technologies and accepts all carbon-reach substances as possible fuels. Furthermore, it makes possible to use atmospheric oxygen as the oxidizer. In this paper the results of authors' recent investigations focused on analysis of the performance of a direct carbon fuel cell supplied with graphite, granulated carbonized biomass (biocarbon), and granulated hard coal are presented. The comparison of the voltage-current characteristics indicated that the results obtained for the case when the cell was operated with carbonized biomass and hard coal were much more promising than those obtained for graphite. The effects of fuel type and the surface area of the cathode on operation performance of the fuel cell were also discussed.
On May 17, 2018, the National Center for Research and Development announced the initiation of a new procedure within the Hydrogen Storage Program. The objective was to develop a Hydrogen Storage System for use with fuel cells and its demonstration in a Mobile Facility. This is to create an alternative to the use of fossil fuels and create a field for competition in creating solutions in the field of access to “clean” energy. The National Center for Research and Development is responsible for the development of assumptions, regulations and implementation. The analysis presents the main assumptions of the program is correlated to the current legal situation related to the financing of Research and Development. An in-depth study concerns the ways of using innovative partnership and its placement in the system of European Union legal acts. The idea of the pre-commercial procurement procedure (Pre-Commercial Procurement), which was developed to support the implementation of prototypes of solutions – resulting from research and development – with a high potential for possible commercialization, was described in details. This procedure is characterized by ensuring the financing of a product or service at an early stage of development. Although this creates the risk of failure of the project, it stimulates technological development.
Among the numerous modern, high-efficiency energy technologies allowing for the conversion of chemical energy of coal into electricity and heat, the Direct Carbon Fuel Cells (DCFC) deserve special attention. These are devices that allow, as the only one among all types of fuel cells, to directly convert the chemical energy contained in solid fuel (coal) into electricity. In addition, they are characterized by high efficiency and low emission of pollutants. The paper reviews and discusses previous research and development works, both around the world and in Poland, into the technology of direct carbon fuel cells with an alkaline (hydroxide) electrolyte.
Based on mathematical modeling and numerical simulations, applicativity of various biofuels on high temperature fuel cell performance are presented. Governing equations of high temperature fuel cell modeling are given. Adequate simulators of both solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) and molten carbonate fuel cell (MCFC) have been done and described. Performance of these fuel cells with different biofuels is shown. Some characteristics are given and described. Advantages and disadvantages of various biofuels from the system performance point of view are pointed out. An analysis of various biofuels as potential fuels for SOFC and MCFC is presented. The results are compared with both methane and hydrogen as the reference fuels. The biofuels are characterized by both lower efficiency and lower fuel utilization factors compared with methane. The presented results are based on a 0D mathematical model in the design point calculation. The governing equations of the model are also presented. Technical and financial analysis of high temperature fuel cells (SOFC and MCFC) are shown. High temperature fuel cells can be fed by biofuels like: biogas, bioethanol, and biomethanol. Operational costs and possible incomes of those installation types were estimated and analyzed. A comparison against classic power generation units is shown. A basic indicator net present value (NPV) for projects was estimated and commented.
Based on mathematical modelling and numerical simulations, a control strategy for a Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell Hybrid System (MCFC-HS) is presented. Adequate maps of performances with three independent parameters are shown. The independent parameters are as follows: stack current, fuel mass flow and compressor outlet pressure. Those parameters can be controlled by external load, fuel valve and turbine-compressor shaft speed, respectively. The control system is purposed to meet many constraints: e.g. stack temperature, steam-to-carbon ratio, compressor surge limitation, etc. The aim is to achieve maximum efficiency of power generated within these constraints. Governing equations of MCFC-HS modelling are given. An operational line of the MCFC-GT system is presented which fulfils several constraints (temperature difference, cell temperature, etc.) The system is able to achieve efficiency of more than 62% even in part-load operation.
The paper addresses the issues of quantification and understanding of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC) based on numerical modelling carried out under four European, EU, research projects from the 7FP within the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, FCH JU, activities. It is a short review of the main projects’ achievements. The goal was to develop numerical analyses at a single cell and stack level. This information was integrated into a system model that was capable of predicting fuel cell phenomena and their effect on the system behaviour. Numerical results were analysed and favourably compared to experimental results obtained from the project partners. At the single SOFC level, a static model of the SOFC cell was developed to calculate output voltage and current density as functions of fuel utilisation, operational pressure and temperature. At the stack level, by improving fuel cell configuration inside the stack and optimising the operation conditions, thermal stresses were decreased and the lifetime of fuel cell systems increased. At the system level, different layouts have been evaluated at the steady-state and by dynamic simulations. Results showed that increasing the operation temperature and pressure improves the overall performance, while changes of the inlet gas compositions improve fuel cell performance.
Solar energy is widely available in nature and electricity can be easily extracted using solar PV cells. A fuel cell being reliable and environment friendly becomes a good choice for the backup so as to compensate for continuously varying solar irradiation. This paper presents simple control schemes for power management of the DC microgrid consisting of PV modules and fuel cell as energy sources and a hydrogen electrolyzer system for storing the excess power generated. The supercapacitor bank is used as a short term energy storage device for providing the energy buffer whenever sudden fluctuations occur in the input power and the load demand. A new power control strategy is developed for a hydrogen storage system. The performance of the system is assessed with and without the supercapacitor bank and the results are compared. A comparative study of the voltage regulation of the microgrid is presented with the controller of the supercapacitor bank, realized using a traditional PI controller and an intelligent fuzzy logic controller.
Hydrogen is the fuel of the future, therefore many hydrogen production methods are developed. At present, fuel cells are of great interest due to their energy efficiency and environmental benefits. A brief review of effective formation methods of hydrogen was conducted. It seems that hydrogen from steam reforming of methanol process is the best fuel source to be applied in fuel cells. In this process Cu-based complex catalysts proved to be the best. In presented work kinetic equations from available literature and catalysts are reported. However, hydrogen produced even in the presence of the most selective catalysts in this process is not pure enough for fuel cells and should be purified from CO. Currently, catalysts for hydrogen production are not sufficiently active in oxidation of carbon monoxide. A simple and effective method to lower CO level and obtain clean H2 is the preferential oxidation of monoxide carbon (CO-PROX). Over new CO-PROX catalysts the level of carbon monoxide can be lowered to a sufficient level of 10 ppm.
The aim of this work was to achieve a deeper understanding of the heat transfer in a microtubular Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (mSOFC) stack based on the results obtained by means of a Computational Fluid Dynamics tool. Stack performance predictions were based on simulations for a 16 anodesupported mSOFCs sub-stack, which was a component of the overall stack containing 64 fuel cells. The emphasis of the paper was put on steady-state modelling, which enabled identification of heat transfer between the fuel cells and air flow cooling the stack and estimation of the influence of stack heat losses. Analysis of processes for different heat losses and the impact of the mSOFC reaction heat flux profile on the temperature distribution in the mSOFC stack were carried out. Both radiative and convective heat transfer were taken into account in the analysis. Two different levels of the inlet air velocity and three different values of the heat losses were considered. Good agreement of the CFD model results with experimental data allowed to predict the operation trends, which will be a reliable tool for optimisation of the working setup and ensure sufficient cooling of the mSOFC stack.
The influences of various operating conditions including cathode inlet air flow rate, electrolyte temperature and fuel particles size on the performance of the direct carbon fuel cell DCFC were presented and discussed in this paper. The experimental results indicated that the cell performance was enhanced with increases of the cathode inlet gas flow rate and cell temperature. Binary alkali hydroxide mixture (NaOH-LiOH, 90-10 mol%) was used as electrolyte and the biochar of apple tree origin carbonized at 873 K was used as fuel. Low melting temperature of the electrolyte and its good ionic conductivity enabled to operate the DCFC at medium temperatures of 723-773 K. The highest current density (601 A m−2) was obtained for temperature 773 K and air flow rate 8.3×106 m3s−1. Itwas shown that too low or too high air flow rates negatively affect the cell performance. The results also indicated that the operation of the DCFC could be improved by proper selection of the fuel particle size.