Fuel cells are an energy user's dream: an efficient, combustion-less, virtually pollution-free power source, capable of being sited in downtown urban areas or in remote regions that runs almost silently and has few moving parts.
A fuel cell is a galvanic cell that has active materials (e.g., fuel and oxidizer), which are continuously supplied from a source external to the cell and the reaction products continuously removed converting chemical energy to electrical energy. Over a dozen types of fuel cells exist. Developments continue as motivated by the desirability of bigger sizes, more endurance, more power density, less emissions, or lower cost to list a few. The Office of Fossil Energy concentrates its fuel cell research, development, and deployment on Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC) to be fueled with gasified solid hydrocarbons.
SOLID OXIDE FUEL CELL PROGRAM
The U.S. Department of Energy initiated the SOFC Program in 2000 to develop low-cost, highly efficient, environmentally friendly SOFC technology for smaller, modular-scale as well as large-scale power generation from natural gas or coal-derived synthesis gas.
The specific goals of the SOFC program are: to meet a stack cost target of $225/kW and a system cost target of $900/kW; demonstrate lifetime performance degradation of less than 0.2% per 1,000 hours over an operating lifetime of 40,000 hours; and achieve an efficiency of greater than 60% without carbon capture and storage.
For further information on the SOFC program, click here.