The simulation work presented herein characterizes the performance of a recuperated gas turbine (GT) hybrid systems in response to different levels of fuel utilization (Uf) by the SOFC. The SOFC performance was compared with and without anode recycle (AR), operating at 90% total stack Uf (Uf.stack). A study at 65% Uf was also considered as a reference case for the hybrid power system without anode recycle, i.e. using single-pass cell fuel utilization (Uf.cell). All three cases in this paper were evaluated at design points for a 550 MW hybrid system using coal-derived syngas feed with zero methane.
A previously developed one-dimensional (1D) fuel cell model was used to simulate the distributed profile of thermal and electrochemical properties along the fuel cell length. Fuel cell total current density, average solid temperature, and cathode inlet temperature were maintained identical at each fuel utilization to avoid confounding the results with the impacts of SOFC degradation.
The maximum system efficiency of 71.1% was achieved by SOFC/GT non-recycle systems at 90% Uf.cell (with 90% Uf.stack). The case at 65% Uf.cell (with 65% Uf.stack) demonstrated 70.7% total efficiency, only 0.4% point lower than at 90% Uf.cell. However, integrating anode recycle to the system significantly reduced the maximum total efficiency to 55.5%. Although the distributed SOFC performance across the cell length for 65% Uf.cell with AR at 90% Uf.stack was similar to the 65% Uf.cell (with 65% Uf.stack), recycling anode off-gas resulted in lower fuel cell Nernst potential that caused further drop in both stack and total system efficiency.