Thermodynamic analysis of SOFC (solid oxide fuel cell) - Stirling hybrid plants using alternative fuels

Masoud Rokni

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A novel hybrid power system (∼10 kW) for an average family home is proposed. The system investigated contains a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) on top of a Stirling engine. The off-gases produced in the SOFC cycle are fed to a bottoming Stirling engine, at which additional power is generated. Simulations of the proposed system were conducted using different fuels, which should facilitate the use of a variety of fuels depending on availability. Here, the results for natural gas (NG), ammonia, di-methyl ether (DME), methanol and ethanol are presented and analyzed. The system behavior is further investigated by comparing the effects of key factors, such as the utilization factor and the operating conditions under which these fuels are used. Moreover, the effect of using a methanator on the plant efficiency is also studied. The combined system improves the overall electrical efficiency relative to that of a stand-alone Stirling engine or SOFC plant. For the combined SOFC and Stirling configuration, the overall power production was increased by approximately 10% compared to that of a stand-alone SOFC plant. System efficiencies of approximately 60% are achieved, which is remarkable for such small plant sizes. Additionally, heat is also produced to heat the family home when necessary. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-97
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • SOFC
  • Stirling
  • Fuel cell
  • Hybrid systems
  • System efficiency
  • Multi-fuel

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