Journal article

Dynamic behaviour of SOFC short stacks

Electrical output behaviour obtained on solid oxide fuel cell stacks, based on planar anode supported cells (50 or 100 cm2 active area) and metallic interconnects, is reported. Stacks (1–12 cells) have been operated with cathode air and anode hydrogen flows between 750 and 800 ◦C operating temperature. At first polarisation, an activation phase (increase in power density) is typically observed, ascribed to the cathode but not clarified. Activation may extend over days or weeks. The materials are fairly resistant to thermal cycling. A 1-cell stack cycled five times in 4 days at heating/cooling rates of 100–300Kh−1, showed no accelerated degradation. In a 5-cell stack, open circuit voltage (OCV) of all cells remained constant after three full cycles (800–25 ◦C). Power output is little affected by air flow but markedly influenced by small fuel flow variation. Fuel utilisation reached 88% in one 5-cell stack test. Performance homogeneity between cells lay at ±4–8% for three different 5- or 6-cell stacks, but was poor for a 12-cell stack with respect to the border cells. Degradation of a 1-cell stack operated for 5500 h showed clear dependence on operating conditions (cell voltage, fuel conversion), believed to be related to anode reoxidation (Ni). A 6-cell stack (50 cm2 cells) delivering 100Wel at 790 ◦C (1kWel L−1 or 0.34Wcm−2) went through a fuel supply interruption and a thermal cycle, with one out of the six cells slightly underperforming after these events. This cell was eventually responsible (hot spot) for stack failure.


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