Thermodynamic optimization of a planar solid oxide fuel cell
Ford, James Christopher
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Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) are high temperature (600C-1000C) composite metallic/ceramic-cermet electrochemical devices. There is a need to effectively manage the heat transfer through the cell to mitigate material failure induced by thermal stresses while yet preserving performance. The present dissertation offers a novel thermodynamic optimization approach that utilizes dimensionless geometric parameters to design a SOFC. Through entropy generation minimization, the architecture of a planar SOFC has been redesigned to optimally balance thermal gradients and cell performance. Cell performance has been defined using the 2nd law metric of exergetic efficiency. One constrained optimization problem was solved. The optimization sought to maximize exergetic efficiency through minimizing total entropy production while constraining thermal gradients. Optimal designs were produced that had exergetic efficiency exceeding 92% while maximum thermal gradients were between 219 C/m and 1249 C/m. As the architecture was modified, the magnitude of sources of entropy generation changed. Ultimately, it was shown that the architecture of a SOFC can be modified through thermodynamic optimization to maximize performance while limiting thermal gradients. The present dissertation highlights a new design methodology and provides insights on the connection between thermal gradients, performance, sources of entropy generation, and cell architecture.