Techno-Economic Analysis of Scalable Coal-Based Fuel Cells Email Page
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University of Akron

Award Number:  FE0000528
Project Duration:  09/01/2009 – 08/31/2014
Total Award Value:  $1,713,961.00
DOE Share:  $1,370,977.00
Performer Share:  $342,984.00
Technology Area:  Solid Oxide Fuel Cells
Key Technology: 

Project Description

This Congressionally-directed project will demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of building a 250 kilowatt (kW) direct coal fuel cell (DCFC) pilot plant. Researchers at the University of Akron (UA) have demonstrated the technical feasibility of a laboratory coal fuel cell that can economically convert high sulfur coal into electricity with near-zero negative environmental impact. Scaling up this coal fuel cell technology to a megawatt scale requires two key elements: (1) developing the manufacturing technology for the components of the coal-based fuel cell and (2) long-term testing of a kW-scale fuel cell pilot plant. This novel coal fuel cell technology is expected to be a highly efficient, super clean, multi-use electric generation technology, which promises to provide low cost electricity by expanding the utilization of U.S. coal supplies and relieving our dependence on foreign oil.

A DCFC stack consists of multiple fuel cells that are interconnected electrically to one another. The performance of the stack will be simulated on the basis of preliminary design and the single cell performance. The simulations and test data will be used to further refine the design.

Project Benefits

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is developing the next generation of efficient fossil fuel technologies capable of producing affordable electric power with near-zero emissions. The Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) program at DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is focused on developing low-cost, highly efficient SOFC power systems that are capable of simultaneously producing electric power, from either natural gas or coal, with carbon capture capabilities. Research is directed towards the technologies that are critical to the commercialization of SOFC technology. To successfully complete the development of SOFC technology from the present state to the point of commercial readiness, the SOFC Program efforts are aligned into three Key Technologies:

(1) Anode, Cathode, and Electrolyte (AEC) Development
(2) Atmospheric Pressure Systems
(3) Pressurized Systems

The AEC Development Key Technology is R&D in nature whereas the other two, Atmospheric Pressure Systems and Pressurized Systems, are focused on the development, demonstration, and deployment of SOFC power systems.

The Alternative Anode-Electrolyte-Cathode (AEC) Development Key Technology evaluates, develops, and implements advanced technologies to reduce costs and enhance performance, robustness, reliability, and endurance of SOFCs. Research activities will contribute critical information to assess the viability and benefits of new novel cell and stack architectures (including alternative anodes, cathodes, electrolytes, materials, and configurations), advanced processing techniques, and novel solid oxide fuel cell power systems.

A relevancy statement was not developed for this project.

Contact Information

Federal Project Manager 
Technology Manager 
Principal Investigator 


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