SOFC Co-Generation of Electricity and Clean Water

Tuesday, 3 October 2017: 09:20
National Harbor 10 (Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center)
E. D. Wachsman and T. H. Hays (University of Maryland)
Energy and water are basic necessities for human civilization. For too long these basic necessities have been provided by separately designed and operated independent large-scale infrastructures. In contrast the co-generation of electric power and potable water provides for significant improvement in system efficiency as well as the possibility for smaller distributed co-generation. One approach to do this is to not only use the electricity generated by solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs), but also use the heat generated to drive water purification technology, as well as capture the H2O in the SOFC exhaust. By leveraging both electrical and thermal energy, very high system efficiency is possible. Moreover, the fuel flexibility, modularity, and solid-state nature of SOFCs make them ideal for operation in remote areas.

Addressing this at the local level with a strategy of distributed water purification powered by local fuel resources will be very effective. Using methane derived from agricultural waste, durable small scale SOFC units can generate significant amounts of electricity and heat. Electrical and thermal outputs from a biogas fueled SOFC were measured and total cell efficiency calculated to inform design criteria for the proposed power units. SOFC stability to sulfur contamination was improved using anode infiltration and evaluated in long term tests. Using the information gathered from these tests an analysis of the system size and fuel requirements necessary for a developing world community system were determined.