Case 12417

Three-dimensionally distributed fuel cell for enhanced fuel cell efficiency

Keywords:

Catalytic converter, fuel utilization, solid oxide fuel cell, SOFC, single chamber fuel cell, distributed reaction zone, fuel cell efficiency, fuel treatment zone, fuel processing zone, two-phase gas mixture, gas flow distribution

Applications:

Fuel efficiency and thermal/mechanical stability of fuel cell stacks; mobile or stationary power applications of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs

Problem:

    Reducing overall cost and complexity of SOFC systems

Technology:

This invention describes a three-dimensionally distributed fuel cell (3DFC) that utilizes the demonstrated principles of single chamber solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) with enhanced fuel utilization and the mechanical robustness of a catalytic converter to create high voltage and power fuel cells. The 3DFC departs from SOFCs through the creation of stack components, which are positioned directly in the fuel and oxidant gas flow and arranged in a grid/array pattern. The grid/array pattern is then optimized to increase fuel and oxidant mixing, as well as the reaction zone distribution throughout the 3DFC. Apart from effective fuel and oxidant mixing that serves to improve the distribution of the fuel cell reaction zone, the 3DFC also enhances the overall fuel cell utilization, leading to higher fuel cell efficiencies.

Advantages:
  • Increases thermal/ mechanical stability of fuel cell stacks that have not been possible with standard SOCF stacks
  • Improves cycling performance through the elimination of high temperature seals
  • Higher fuel cell efficiency through improved fuel and oxide mixing
  • Smaller and lighter system to reduce overall fuel cell costs
  • Increases design flexibility and integration due to its integral segments that can conform to multiple dimensions, contours and structures

Inventors:
  • Professor Yang Shao-Horn (Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT)
  • Ethan Crumlin (Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT)
  • Gerardo Lao (Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT)
  • Serkan Koc (Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT)

Intellectual Property:

PCT Patent Application US08/006641, filed on May 23, 2008

US Patent Application 12/601388, filed on June 7, 2010

Publications:

N/A

Last revised: April 29, 2013

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