How Does Advanced Fuel Cell Technology Run on Solid Carbon?

How Does Advanced Fuel Cell Technology Run on Solid Carbon?

Laura Davis, Energy CIO Insights | Monday, February 08, 2021

Advanced innovations in the anode, the electrolyte and the fuel permit the fuel cell to use carbon, functions at lower temperatures and show maximum power densities than earlier DCFCs.

FREMONT, CA: Fuel cell technology can make electricity generation from resources like coal and biomass cleaner and efficient. The hydrogen fuel cells, such as proton exchange membrane (PEM) and other kinds of fuel cells generate electricity from the chemical reaction between the pure hydrogen and oxygen. The direct carbon fuel cells (DCFCs) can utilize any number of carbon-based resources for fuel, comprising coal, tar, coke, biomass, and organic waste.

DCFCs make use of the readily available fuels as they are potentially more efficient than any conventional hydrogen fuel cells. Earlier, DCFC designs have several drawbacks. It needed a high temperature from 700 to 900 °C that makes them less efficient and less durable. As a consequence of the high temperatures, they are manufactured with expensive materials which can handle the heat. Also, early DCFC designs cannot effectively utilize carbon fuel. Top 10 Energy Storage Solution Companies - 2020

A new fuel cell was manufactured that integrates the innovations in the three elements that are the anode, the fuel, and the electrode. All together the advancements permit the fuel cells to use about three times as much carbon as the earlier DCFC designs. The fuel cell also functions at lower temperatures and confirmed higher maximum power densities than previous DCFCs.

The direct carbon fuel cell can operate at a lower temperature. The fuels cells utilize stable carbon that is finely ground and injected using an airstream into the cell. The need for high heat, an electrode was developed utilizing highly conductive materials.

Carbon usage was enhanced by developing a 3D ceramic textile anode design that scans bundles of fibres together like a piece of cloth. The fibres are hollow and porous. These features combined to maximize the amount of surface area available for a chemical reaction with the carbon fuel. A composite fuel was developed made from solid carbon and carbonate. At the operating temperature, the composite is fluid-like and flows smoothly into the interface. The molten carbonate transfers the solid carbon into hollow fibres and the pinholes of the anode, enhancing the power density of the fuel cell.

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