Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence

Publication Details

Proc. 22nd International Conference on Efficiency, Cost, Optimization, Simulation and Environmental Impact of Energy Systems, Foz Do Iguaçu, Brazil, 2009.


In this paper the operation and performance of a high temperature solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) stack on biomass syn-gas from a demonstration biomass gasification combined heat and power (CHP) plant is investigated. The objective of this work is to develop a computer simulation model of a biomass-SOFC CHP system, flexible enough for use in industry, capable of predicting system performance under various operating conditions and using diverse fuels. The biomass gasifier is of the dual fluidised bed (DFB) type with steam as the gasifying agent and is operated at atmospheric pressure. The tubular SOFC configuration, developed by Siemens Power Generation Inc (SPGI), is selected. It is considered to be the most advanced design and is approaching commercialisation. The SOFC stack model, developed using the chemical process flowsheet simulator Aspen Plus, is of equilibrium type and is based on Gibbs free energy minimisation. The SOFC model performs heat and mass balances and considers the ohmic, activation and concentration losses for the voltage calculation. Data available in the literature on the SPGI SOFC operating on natural gas is used to validate the model. The system model predicts thermodynamic condition and composition of all internal flow streams, the heat generated by the SOFC stack, voltage (V), current (I) and efficiency. Operating parameters are varied over a wide range, parameters such as fuel utilisation factor (Uf), current density (j) and steam to carbon ratio (STCR) have significant influence. The results indicate that there must be a trade-off between voltage, efficiency and power with respect to j and the SOFC stack should be operated at low STCR and high Uf, within certain limits. SOFC stack operation on biomass syn-gas is compared to operation on natural gas and as expected there is a drop in performance, which is attributed to increased input fuel and air flow due to the lower quality of the fuel gas. The optimum realistic operating conditions with regard to SOFC stack performance are identified. High electrical efficiencies are predicted making these systems very attractive for CHP applications.