Analysis of the potential for thermal radiation promotion within solid oxide fuel cells
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Solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) systems have the potential to provide highly efficient power generation systems capable of utilizing readily available hydrocarbons. It is hoped that these systems will be capable of replacing some of the conventional power systems and act to reduce overall emissions and increase energy efficiency. SOFC technology faces many challenges such as high cost, lifetime uncertainties, and long startup times; and these challenges have prevented SOFC technology from being widely adopted. Established methods for providing SOFC stack thermal management are either very costly, work against system design goals, or are unreliable. If SOFC thermal management needs could be reduced, it is possible that SOFC cost and lifetime could be improved. It is thought that promotion of thermal radiation within a SOFC stack may add thermal control which will reduce the need for stack thermal management. Radiation may be promoted by decreasing the length: hydraulic diameter ratio of cathode flow channels and by increasing the manifold size to create a larger stack radiation enclosure. Full thermal tests of a SOFC stack are difficult and expensive, and due to this simulations of a SOFC are widely used to analyze stack thermal behavior. In this work, a model of a SOFC “unit cell” is adjusted to represent modern SOFC stacks. The proposed methods for radiation promotion are tested with simulations using this model, and conclusions of radiation promotion in SOFC stacks are provided. Additionally, radiative properties of commonly used materials are obtained through experiments, and future work for reducing stack reliance on active thermal management is proposed.