Journal article

A thermally self-sustained micro-power plant with integrated micro-solid oxide fuel cells, micro-reformer and functional micro-fluidic carrier

Low temperature micro-solid oxide fuel cell (micro-SOFC) systems are an attractive alternative power source for small-size portable electronic devices due to their high energy efficiency and density. Here, we report a thermally self-sustainable reformer – micro-SOFC assembly. The device consists of a micro-reformer bonded to a silicon chip containing 30 micro-SOFC membranes and a functional glass carrier with gas channels and screen-printed heaters for start-up. Thermal independence of the device from the externally powered heater is achieved by this exothermic reforming reaction above 470 °C. The reforming reaction and the fuel gas flow rate of the n-butane/air gas mixture controls the operation temperature and gas composition on the micro-SOFC membrane. In the temperature range between 505 °C and 570 °C, the gas composition after the micro-reformer consists of 12 vol% to 28 vol% H2. An open-circuit voltage of 1.0 V and maximum power density of 47 mW/cm2 at 565 °C is achieved with the on-chip produced hydrogen at the micro-SOFC membranes.

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