Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell catalyst and stack component degradation and lifetime: Fuel Gas CONTaminant effects and EXtraction strategies
Reducing the carbon footprint of our society is imperative. This can be achieved by capturing and confining anthropogenic CO2 emissions as well as by replacing fossil-based fuels with renewable or waste-derived fuels. MCFCs are unique in being able to do both these things. Thanks to their operating principle, CO2 can be extracted from a gas stream on the cathode side and hydrocarbon fuels like biogas can be converted to electricity on the anode side. However, the degradation caused by the contaminants in these gases must be addressed. MCFC-CONTEX aims to tackle this problem from two sides:
1) investigating poisoning mechanisms caused by alternative fuels and applications and determining precisely MCFC tolerance limits for long-term endurance;
2) optimizing fuel and gas cleaning to achieve tailored degrees of purification according to MCFC operating conditions and tolerance.
The first line of activity requires extensive and long-term cell testing, so in parallel laboratories characterisation and accelerated tests will be carried out on a number of specified reagents and corresponding contaminants. A numerical model will be set up to simulate and predict the effects of contaminant poisoning. These activities are grouped in Work Package 2.
The second line of investigation (Work Package 4) entails characterization and development of clean-up materials and processes, focusing on the most promising options to be selected at the start of the project. Ultimately a pilot-scale gas cleaning unit optimized for the applications considered will be developed and run.
To carry out this research, real-time and highly accurate contaminant detection methods are necessary which have to be implemented in the fuel-clean-up-MCFC chain to monitor the fate of the harmful species and thus deduce their effects. This is a crucial, supporting task and acts as scientific cement between the previous two activities, and as such is collocated as Work Package 3.