GE today announced it has successfully developed and delivered a 6 kW prototype of a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) system to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)/National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) for testing as part of a multi-year research program under the Department’s Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) Coal-Based Systems program.
The delivered prototype exceeds DOE’s key performance specifications for both efficiency and potential for low cost and represents a major step forward in providing the SOFC technology required for large scale, commercially viable SOFC products for power generation. The prototype achieved an efficiency of 49%, which is well above the minimum requirement of 35% set forth in the program. The development of this prototype is part of a 10-year, three-phase program with DOE/NETL to build a highly efficient, multi-megawatt SOFC-based power system operating on coal. This system has the potential to achieve dramatically reduced emissions and close to 50% efficiency from coal. This would far surpass the 35% efficiency that can be achieved in a typical conventional pulverized coal-fired power plant today.
Because SOFCs provide a continuous flow of power, operate at high temperatures and have multi-fuel capabilities, they can greatly enhance energy efficiency in power generation. And since fuel cells are a virtually combustion- and NOx-free power source, they also can vastly improve environmental performance.
As part of its partnership with DOE, GE will design an integrated gasification fuel cell (IGFC) system that incorporates a hybrid SOFC/gas turbine (see previous post for description of a similar system) as the primary power generation unit and demonstrate a proof-of-concept system.
SECA is an alliance of industry groups who individually plan to commercialize SOFC systems for pre-defined markets; research and development institutions involved in solid-state development activities; and government organizations that provide funding and management for the program. The SECA alliance was formed to accelerate the commercial readiness of SOFCs in the 3 kW to 10 kW for use in stationary, transportation, and military applications.
SECA Industry Team participants Delphi and GE have made significant advances in the reduction of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) stack costs, surpassing the SECA target for 2006. The estimated costs were $294/kW for a 4.24kW Delphi system; and $254/kW for a 5.4kW GE system. Both teams easily bettered the GPRA SECA goal of <$300/kW. Meeting this latest target puts both Delphi and GE on track towards meeting the SECA goal of <$400/kW system cost.
"At $400 per kilowatt-the SECA phase III target, and nearly one-tenth the cost of power-generating fuel cells currently sold on the market-fuel cells would compete with traditional gas turbine and diesel electricity generators for stationary applications, and would become viable auxiliary power suppliers for the transportation sector." said SECA Project Manager Travis Shultz.
Current Industrial Teams in the SECA program are:
- Acumentrics – 10 kW tubular SOFC power generation system
- Cummins Power Generation (with SOFCo) – 10 kW SOFC net generator system for recreational vehicles, commercial vehicles, and telcommunications emergency power
- Delphi Automotive Systems (with Battelle) – 5 kW planar SOFC for distributed generation systems and automotive auxiliary power units
- FuelCell Energy (with Versa Power Systems, Gas Technology Institute, Materials and Systems Research, Inc., University of Utah and Dana) – 3-10 kW planar SOFC power generation system
- General Electric Power Systems – 3 kW to 10 kW SOFC system
- Siemens Westinghouse Power Corporation – 7kW to 10 kW SOFC combined heat and power system for residential applications and a 3 kW to 10 kW SOFC auxiliary power unit for transportation applications