The anode and the electrolyte in the MCFC
Abstract: A goal of the Swedish government is to increase the usage of renewable fuels and biomass-based fuels. Fuel cells, and especially the MCFC, are useful for these types of fuels. The Swedish market may benefit from the MCFC in two ways: increased efficiency of the biofuels and also utilisation of produced heat in district heating. Most of the commercial MCFC systems today are optimised for use with methane. The possibility to utilise biomass in Sweden makes it important to study how the MCFC may be adapted or optimised for good performance and low degradation with gas produced from biomass or other renewable fuels.This thesis is focused on methods that may be used to investigate and evaluate MCFC electrodes and electrolytes with renewable fuels i.e. CO2-containing gases. The methods and results are both experimental and mathematically modelled. The objectives of this thesis are to better understand how the performance of the anode is dependent on different fuels. Anode kinetics and the water-gas shift reaction have been investigated as well as the possibility to increase cell lifetime by increasing the initial electrolyte amount by having the anode as a reservoir. The effect of segregation of cations in the electrolyte during operation has also been studied.It was found that if the gas composition at the current collector inlet is in equilibrium according to the water gas-shift reaction the gas composition inside the electrode is almost uniform. However, if the gas is not in equilibrium then the concentration gradients inside the current collector have a large effect on the gas composition inside the electrode. The conversion of the gas in the gas flow channels according to the water-gas shift reaction depends on the gas flow rate. For an anode used in a gas mixture of humidified hydrogen and carbon dioxide that are not in equilibrium some solubility of Ni in a (Li/Na)2CO3 mixture was found. To have the anode act as an electrolyte reservoir to prolong cell lifetime the anode pore size should be carefully matched with that of the cathode and a bimodal pore-size distribution for the anode is preferable to have as good performance as possible for as large electrolyte filling degree interval as possible. Modelling results of segregation of cations in the electrolyte during operation indicate that the electrolyte composition changes during operation and that the lithium ions are enriched at the anode for both types of electrolyte used for the MCFC. The electrolyte composition changes are small but might have to be considered in long-time operation. The results from this thesis may be used to better understand how the MCFC may be used for operation with renewable fuels and how electrodes may be designed to prolong cell lifetime.
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