Experimental Study of Spark-Ignition Combustion using the Anode Off-Gas from a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell
Hybridizing Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) with internal combustion engines is an attractive solution for power generation at high electrical conversion efficiency while emitting significantly reduced emissions than conventional fossil fueled plants. The gas that exits the anode of an SOFC operating on natural gas is a mixture of H2, CO, CO2, and H2O vapor, which are the products of the fuel reforming and the electrochemical process in the stack. In this study, experiments were conducted on a single-cylinder, spark-ignited Cooperative Fuel Research Engine using the anode off-gas as the fuel, at compression ratio of 11:1 and 13:1, engine speed of 1200 rev/min and intake pressure of 75 kPa, to investigate the combustion characteristics and emissions formation. A comparison was drawn with combustion with Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) at the same engine operating conditions. The experimental results revealed that the anode off-gas can be used as a potential alternative fuel for spark-ignition combustion, and an engine can be used to provide additional power to a hybrid SOFC-engine system. Combustion with the anode off-gas resulted in similar net indicated efficiency with CNG at CR of 13:1, but with negligible NOx emissions and zero total hydrocarbon emissions. However, combustion with the anode off-gas resulted in lower volumetric efficiency and lower load than CNG as a result of high levels of dilution in the off-gas, which greatly reduces the lower heating value of the fuel. This study demonstrated the feasibility of using the SOFC anode-off gas as a potential fuel for spark-ignition engines with good fuel conversion efficiency and minimal NOx and THC emissions.