Climate change concerns have forced the automotive industry to develop more efficient powertrain technologies, including the potential for fuel cell systems. Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) demonstrate exceptional fuel flexibility and can operate on conventional, widely available hydrocarbon fuels with limited requirements for fuel reformation. Current hybrid powertrains combining fuel cell systems with internal combustion engines (ICEs) fail to mitigate the disadvantages of requiring fuel reformation by placing the engine downstream of the fuel cell system. This work, thus investigates the upstream placement of the engine, eliminating the need for fuel processing catalysts and the heating of complex fuel reformers. The ICE burns a fuel-rich mixture through rapid compression ignition, performing partial oxidation fuel reformation. To test the feasibility of a fuel cell system operating on such ICE exhaust, chemical kinetic model simulations were performed, creating model exhaust containing ∼43.0% syngas. A micro-tubular SOFC (μT-SOFC) was tested for power output with this exhaust, and generated ∼730 mW/cm2 (∼86% of its maximum output obtained with pure hydrogen fuel). Combustion testing was subsequently performed in a test chamber, and despite insufficient equipment limiting the maximum pressure of the combustion chamber, began to validate the model. The exhaust from these tests contained all of the predicted chemical species and, on average, ∼21.8% syngas, but would have resembled the model more closely given higher pressures. This work examines the viability of a novel combined ICE and fuel cell hybrid system, displaying potential for a more cost-effective/efficient solution than current fuel cell systems.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.