In the past AVL developed a natural gas operated SOFC CHP platform in the power range of 5 – 10 kWel with an electrical efficiency of >55 % using the Plansee/IKTS stack technology.
For certain applications such as buildings, a heat driven operation mode leads to low operating hours per year for conventional CHP systems due to the low heat demand during summer season. The option to generate cooling power in addition to heat will increase the annual operating hours per year and thus economic efficiency significantly. This work will show the coupling of a stationary 6 kWel SOFC CHP system developed by AVL using an IKTS stack module with a 5 kWcooling absorption heat pump developed by TU Graz, Institute of Thermal Engineering. The exhaust gas heat from the SOFC which is available at >200 °C will be used to operate the thermally driven heat pump. The SOFC exhaust gas heat is transferred in the generator of the absorption heat pump to be converted to cooling power. To maximize the cooling power output of the SOFC CCHP system it is important to utilize as much SOFC exhaust gas heat as possible in the absorption heat pumping process. Furthermore, it is important to optimize the energy efficiency ratio of the absorption heat pump. In this context the influence of the cold and cooling water temperatures of the absorption heat pumping process on the system size and system total efficiency were investigated. It can be shown that for cold and cooling water temperatures as required in office buildings and hospitals a ratio between electrical power and cooling power of 4 - 6 can be achieved by the SOFC CCHP system. This analysis presents the capability of the SOFC CCHP system for a flexible and demand-oriented generation of electricity, heat and cooling power.
As the electrical efficiency of the SOFC determines the exhaust gas heat output the system performance was further investigated towards the operation of renewable fuels. Biogas or synthetic diesel for instance may lead to lower electrical efficiencies compared to natural gas. Therefore, the type of fuel also influences the SOFC exhaust mass flow and temperature which is the main driving power for the absorption heat pump. In this work the fuel capability of the platform was extended from natural gas to renewable fuels. From economic point of view it is desired to benefit from volume effects for stacks and balance of plant components which is why AVLs system development approach is oriented towards a multi-fuel platform which requires only minor design adaptions when it comes to the utilization of different fuels including renewables. As a technology provider this approach is certainly a major advantage for customers who are used to a power generation technology that can be easily applied in various regions all over the world while facing varying fuel specifications. Therefore, this work will provide an overview of the most relevant renewable fuels and its composition for stationary SOFC CHP applications. Consequently, design synergies regarding the process design of the hot anode gas recirculation loop in terms of the recirculation ratio and reforming temperature which are influenced by the specific fuel, are shown. A comparison of system performance results based on process simulations will be discussed. The process simulation uses results from specific reforming tests for e.g. biogas and diesel which will be shown.
Furthermore, compared to natural gas based systems a considerably higher effort has to be done in terms of the gas cleaning for biogas and biomass product gas. In case of biogas the main impurities are S, Cl, NH3 which need to be eliminated before sending the fuel to the steam reformer and stack respectively. A low cost gas cleaning concept for biogas based on several low temperature adsorption steps was developed by TU Graz. It can be shown that the absorption efficiency is highly depending on the fuel mixture. The influence of CH4, CO2 and H2O was identified to allow a proper design of the gas cleaning unit.
Finally, the build-up of the prototype including first test results will be shown in this work.