Recent innovations in Metal Supported Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (MS-SOFC) have increased the longevity and reliability of fuel cells. These innovations drive the desire to create power generating systems that combine different ways of extracting power from a fuel to increase overall thermal efficiency. This investigation assesses the feasibility of operating an internal combustion engine with the anode tail-gas, which is a blend of H2, CO, CO2, H2O, and CH4, exhausted by a MS-SOFC. This engine would be used to support fuel cell balance of plant equipment and produce excess electrical power.
Four variations of the expected anode tail-gas blends were determined by varying the dewpoint temperature of the fuel. Gas blends are tested by combining separate flows of each constituent, and combustion is tested using a Cooperative Fuel Research (CFR) engine. Compression ratio, spark timing, inlet manifold temperature, and boost pressure were used to obtain optimal operating conditions. Stable engine operation was obtained on all test blends. A combination of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and analysis of chemical species and reaction mechanisms is used to develop an engine and combustion model. This model allows for further investigation into anode tail-gas combustion characteristics. Response Surface Method Optimization was used to experimentally optimize operating parameters and determine the maximum achievable efficiency utilizing the CFR engine.
All test blends with H2O produced power in the engine although the blend with the most water content caused operational problems with the CFR engine test stand, including large amounts of water entering the oil system. Three chemical kinetic mechanisms were investigated that had the correct species for simulating the fuel with a low number of reactions to facilitate low computational time: San Diego (SD), GRI and Gallway 2017 (NUIG) mechanism. Out of these four mechanisms, the NUIG mechanism results fit the CFR engine experimental data best. Response Surface Method Optimization was performed on the most viable test blends, the steam injections blends at 40°C and 90°C fuel dewpoint temperature. During optimization the 40°C dewpoint temperature blend brake efficiency increased from 20% to 21.6%, and the 90°C dewpoint temperature blend brake efficiency increased from 17% to 22.3%.