Integrated Solid Oxide Fuel Cell: Gas Turbine Hybrid Systems with or without CO2 Separation

Distributed power generation and cogeneration of heat and power is an attractive way toward a more rational conversion of fossil and bio fuels. Solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) – gas turbine (GT) hybrid systems are emerging as the most promising candidates enabling the achievement of a cleaner and more efficient conversion of a large variety of resources across a broad power range covering from small to medium scale applications. This thesis introduces an innovative concept of SOFC-GT hybrid system that allows reaching efficiencies higher than the state of the art while enabling the carbon dioxide separation and avoiding fuel cell pressurisation technical issues. Several hybrid system design alternatives based on this concept are analysed through a thermodynamic optimisation approach combining process modelling, advanced process integration techniques and multi-objective optimisation. A number of optimal hybrid system configurations are determined for different design targets. The results consistently demonstrate the higher energy conversion performance and flexibility enabled with respect to the state of the art. The innovative concept analysis is extended to two applications for which SOFC-GT hybrid cycles are expected to provide the most significant impact toward sustainability: the small scale distributed generation and the conversion of renewable resources. A simplified version of the new hybrid system layout is especially developed for small scale distributed generation, typical of residential building applications (5-10 kWel). Experimental data are used to prove the technical feasibility of the system and to assess the performance potentially achievable with currently feasible technologies. The results of the analysis underline that energy conversion efficiencies higher than traditional centralised power generation can be achieved even at such a small scale. A systematic process integration and optimisation approach is used to assess the energy conversion performance of the original SOFC-GT hybrid cycle fuelled with hydrothermally gasified wet waste biomass. The analysis highlights the considerable potential of the integrated system that allows for converting wet waste biomass into electricity with First Law efficiency higher than 60% while simultaneously enabling the separation of the biogenic carbon dioxide.


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