Due to the intermittent nature of the renewable power plants and the rigid operation of existing plans, the need for flexible power production is eminent. Hybrid energy systems have shown potential for flexible power production capable to fulfill the power demands and maintain the efficiency. This work studies different design cases of a 100kW Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) and Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) hybrid system.

Anode off-gas from the fuel cell stack provided the chemical energy to run the ICE. Heat management of the anode exhaust was considered to attain the operational limits of the ICE in the present configuration. A turbocharger was used to deliver the necessary air flow for both the fuel cell stack and the engine. A series of 25 design cases were chosen to analyze the performance and the potential flexibility of this cycle. The 25-design points resulted from a matrix composed of the variation of fuel utilization and reformer operating temperature, ranging from 70% to 90% and 600K to 1000K, respectively. At each design point, hardware was re-sized to match the desired conditions.

The cycle performance and fuel cell distributed profiles are discussed in this paper. It is discovered that the system efficiency increases as the fuel utilization increases following a nearly linear behavior. The highest efficiency attained is 62% at a reformer operating temperature of 800K and a 90% fuel utilization. The minimum external fuel required to maintain turbocharger in operation decreases with the increase on the reformer temperature. Power contribution between ICE and SOFC follows a linear behavior closely overlapping each trend at different reforming operational temperatures. The impact of external reforming and internal on-anode reforming is also discussed. It is found that there is an optimal balance between the external and internal reforming. The optimal methane content in this work is shown to be around ∼18 vol%.

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