Thermal Integration of SOFC and Plate Heat Exchanger Desorber

Monday, 27 July 2015: 14:00
Alsh (Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre)
V. Venkataraman (University of Birmingham, UK), A. W. Pacek, and R. Steinberger-Wilckens (University of Birmingham,UK)
SOFCs are a potential candidate for use as Auxiliary Power Units (APU’s) on board heavy duty trucks. Heat from the SOFC exhaust is generally used either for cabin heating or for recuperative heat exchange and even after that there is still a considerable amount of high quality heat available. The unique selling point of an SOFC is the availability of both electricity and high quality heat. Not using the heat from an SOFC stack is tantamount to using only half the available useful energy from the fuel.

The ongoing research work reported here focuses on the design & development of a compact Solid Oxide Fuel Cell –Vapour Absorption Refrigeration System (SOFC-VARS) unit for refrigerated truck applications. This report presents a numerical model and simulation for thermal integration of an SOFC stack with a plate heat exchanger desorber via a specially designed tube in tube heat exchanger with internal fins where thermal oil is heated to the required desorber temperature and then serves as the coupling fluid in the plate heat exchanger desorber.

The sizing of the heat exchanger and desorber has been carried out to fit a small refrigerated van, to cater to a 1 kW cooling load. The modelling focuses on the heat transfer aspects at the SOFC and heat exchanger end and on both heat & mass transfer aspects at the desorber end.

The results show that a plate heat exchanger desorber is able to produce the required quantity of refrigerant needed for a 1 kW cooling load. A thorough sensitivity analysis on the plate heat exchanger desorber has also been carried out to identify the parameters that affect desorption performance the most and the parameters that have least effect on the desorption performance.

The use of plate heat exchangers as desorbers not only gives a high heat transfer surface needed for desorption but also leads to considerable reduction in desorber volume when compared to conventional falling film desorbers. Based on the results obtained from modelling, appropriate design maps have been drawn which showcase the sizing of the plate heat exchanger desorber and the SOFC stack and also the mass flow rate of thermal oil needed.