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Energy Department Invests $13.5M to Advance Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Technology

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) has selected 16 projects to receive approximately $13.5 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development (R&D) projects that will advance solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technologies.

SOFC technologies enable efficient, cost-effective electricity generation from abundant domestic coal and natural gas resources, with minimal use of water and near-zero atmospheric emissions of carbon dioxide and pollutants. The selected projects support the Department’s SOFC program by helping to mature the technology for commercial use to efficiently generate low-cost electricity. They are funded under two FOAs—DE-FOA-0001850: Preliminary Design and Techno-Economic Analysis of MWe-Class Solid Oxide Fuel Cell and DE-FOA-0001853: Solid Oxide Fuel Cells Core Technology Research.

The selected projects, which will be managed by FE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), are listed below.

Preliminary Design and Techno-Economic Analysis of MWe-Class Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Systems

1. MW-Class SOFC Pilot System DevelopmentFuelCell Energy Inc. (Danbury, CT) will  develop a conceptual design of a MWe-class SOFC power system and complete a techno-economic analysis to demonstrate that the system can meet a cost target of no more than $6,000 per kilowatt electric (kWe) at low-volume production levels.

DOE Funding: $1,500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $375,001; Total Value: $1,875,001

2. Techno-Economic Analysis of an LGFCS MWe-Class SOFC SystemLG Fuel Cell Systems Inc. (North Canton, OH) aims to perform a range of technical, cost, and economic analyses of the design for a MWe-scale natural gas-fired SOFC system for distributed power generation.

DOE Funding: $970,224; Non-DOE Funding: $242,556; Total Value: $1,212,780

Solid Oxide Fuel Cells Core Technology Research

Area of Interest 1: SOFC Core Technology Research

3. Multi-Gas Sensors for Enhanced Reliability of SOFC OperationGE Global Research (Niskayuna, NY) will build and field test gas sensors for monitoring hydrogen and carbon monoxide anode tail gases produced in situ via on-site steam reforming in SOFC systems.

DOE Funding: $460,696; Non-DOE Funding: $153,865; Total Funding: $614,561

4. Robust Highly Durable Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Cathodes – Improved Materials Compatibility & Self-Regulating Surface Chemistry Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA) researchers will develop electrodes that are inherently more tolerant to chromium and silicon impurities in the SOFC cathode operating environment.

DOE Funding: $500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $125,000; Total: $625,000

5. High-Performance Circuit Pastes for Solid Oxide Fuel Cell ApplicationsMichigan State University (Lansing, MI) researchers will evaluate the benefit of using a new silver-nickel metal system for circuit paste applications.

DOE Funding: $500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $130,518; Total Funding: $630,518

6. Sputtered Thin Films for Very High Power, Efficient, and Low-Cost Commercial SOFCsRedox Power Systems LLC (College Park, MD) researchers will demonstrate a significant increase in power density in Redox SOFCs using sputtered electron-blocking, buffer, and cathode functional layers. Researchers will also demonstrate that the sputtering process can be optimized to a high throughput, low cost per watt fabrication route.

DOE: $499,988; Non-DOE: $125,000; Total: $624,988

7. Capture of Airborne Cr, Si, S and B Gaseous Species for the Mitigation of SOFC Cathode Poisoning: Low Cost Alkaline-Transition Metal Oxide Getters and Validation in SOFC System (TRL 5) – University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT) researchers will mitigate electrochemical poisoning of the cathode by identifying, fabricating, testing, and validating cost-effective formulations and designs to capture airborne gaseous species entering SOFC power generation systems operating from 600–900° C.

DOE: $500,000; Non-DOE: $125,000; Total: $625,000

8. Development of High-Performance SOFCs with a Superior Stability for Reliable and Durable Power SystemsUniversity of Louisiana at Lafayette (Lafayette, LA) researchers will examine three types of cathodes to study the role of interlayer chemistry and microstructure on the improvement of performance stability and electrochemical activity.

DOE Funding: $499,999; Non-DOE Funding: $125,000; Total Funding: $624,999

9. Tuning Surface Stoichiometry of SOFC Electrodes at the Molecular and Nano Scale for Enhanced Performance and DurabilityUniversity of Maryland (College Park, MD) researchers will develop novel surface modification approaches to enhance the stability and performance of SOFC electrodes (cathode and anode) by controlling the surface stoichiometry of metal oxides.

DOE Funding: $500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $125,000; Total Funding: $625,000

10. Enhancing Coking Tolerance and Stability of SOFC Anodes using Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) of Oxide – Thin Films University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA) researchers will address unresolved anode degradation issues via atomic layer deposition to form oxide overlayers on nickel–yttria-stabilized zirconia cermet anodes to suppress whisker formation, reduce coarsening, and suppress oxidation of the reduced nickel.

DOE Funding: $500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $125,000; Total Funding: $625,000

11. A Transformational Natural Gas-Fueled, Dynamic SOFC for Data Center In-Rack PowerUniversity of South Carolina (Columbia, SC) researchers will advance newly invented solid fuel bed SOFC technology, which combines an anode-support tubular SOFC with an on-anode metal bed, for commercial applications in critical data centers in-rack power systems.

DOE Funding: $500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $125,000; Total Funding: $625,000

12. Cost-Effective, Thin-Film SOFCs for Reliable Power GenerationUniversity of South Carolina (Columbia, SC) researchers will develop and demonstrate an advanced metal supported SOFC technology to cost-effectively and reliably generate electricity directly from hydrocarbon fuels (e.g., natural gas) for distributed and central generation applications.

DOE Funding: $500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $125,000; Total Value: $625,000

13. Chromium Tolerant, Highly Active and Stable Electrocatalytic Internal Surface Coating for Cathode of Commercial SOFCsWest Virginia University (Morgantown, WV) researchers will develop a chromium-tolerant, highly active, stable coating layer and apply it to the internal surfaces of porous composite cathodes from commercially available SOFCs via atomic layer deposition. The project is expected to result in commercial cells with a 50 percent greater power density throughout the entire SOFC operational temperature range of 650–800° C.

DOE Funding: $500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $128,772; Total Funding: $628,772

14. Computationally Guided Design of Multiple Impurities Tolerant ElectrodeWorcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, MA) researchers will design, test, and validate cathode materials for SOFCs that maintain high-performance and low-degradation rates under simultaneously present, multiple impurities using a combined integrated computational materials engineering and lab-scale testing approach.

DOE Funding: $499,993; Non-DOE Funding: $128,928; Total Value: $628,921

Area of Interest 2: Core Technology R&D in Support of Near-Term SOFC Power Systems Prototype Tests

15. Next-Generation Durable, Cost-Effective, Energy-Efficient Tubular SOFCAtrex Energy Inc. (Walpole, MA) researchers will develop and optimize cell technology for low-cost, low-temperature, high-energy-efficiency operation.

DOE Funding: $1,999,998; Non-DOE Funding: $502,028; Total Funding: $2,502,026

16. Next Generation SOFC Module DevelopmentFuelCell Energy Inc. (Danbury, CT) researchers will develop and test a modular SOFC building block (greater than 40 kW) utilizing a second-generation core stack technology implemented in an innovative array design.

DOE Funding: $2,999,998; Non-DOE Funding: $750,000; Total Funding: $3,749,998

The Office of Fossil Energy funds research and development projects to reduce the risk and cost of advanced fossil energy technologies and further the sustainable use of the Nation’s fossil resources. To learn more about the programs within the Office of Fossil Energy, visit the Office of Fossil Energy website or sign up for FE news announcements. More information about the National Energy Technology Laboratory is available on the NETL website.

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