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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/I037016/1
Title: Advancing Biogas Utilization through Fuel Flexible SOFC
Principal Investigator: Irvine, Professor J
Other Investigators:
Brandon, Professor NP Cassidy, Dr M Atkinson, Professor A
Tao, Professor S
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
EnviTec Biogas UK Ltd Rolls-Royce Plc (UK) Scottish Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Assoc.
TATA Consulting Engineers Limited University of Glamorgan
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: University of St Andrews
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 September 2011 Ends: 28 February 2015 Value (£): 1,224,922
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Fuel Cell Technologies
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
15 Mar 2011 India-UK Collaborative Research Initiative in Fuel Cells Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Biogas provides an excellent means to convert waste to energy. It is an important technology widely applied in rural India with many significant installations also in the UK and Europe. Currently electricity is generally produced from biogas through thermal conversion; however, the electrical efficiency of this process is low. Converting biogas to electricity via fuel cell technology offers significant increases in efficieny, perhaps a factor of 2, and hence is a highly desirable technology. Some biogas installations do exist utiliing molten carbonate fuel cell technology; however, it is widely considered that Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Technology is the most promising future technology due to its much higher power density and its applicability to a wide range of scales. Here, we seek to improve the performance and durability of SOFC fuel electrodes for operation in biogas.

Biogas is largely a mixture of CO2 and methane with quite large impurity contents of hydrogen sulphide. In this study, we investigate the performance and durability of some different SOFC concepts in fuel gas compositions directly relevant to biogas operation. The first strategy investigated will be to develop new perovskite and related materials for application as SOFC anodes that are resistant to coking and sulphur degradation. The second strategy to be investigated, relates to the utilisation of proton conducting perovskite to protect Ni and other electrocatalysts from coking and degradation. These and more conventional electrodes will be studied through sophisticating imaging techniques and electrochemcal performance testing. Promising concepts will be scaled up into significant cells, i.e. >10cm2 and rigourous testing performed. Test cells will be made and evaluated under different gas mixes probing both operation on startup in biogas and on prolonged operation utilising anode exhaust recirculate (containing steam and additional CO2) for internal reformation. Durability will be assessed up to 1000 hrs in appropriate biogas reformates and the degree of Sulphur scrubbing required, if any, assessed. Overall we seek solutions that could be applied to multi-kW scales of relevance decentralised and isolated operation.

The UK will lead imaging and modelling, new anodes and performance testing, whereas India will lead proton conducting cermets and cell fabrication and scale up; however all activites involve significant cross-national activity.

Two project workshops will be held in the UK and two in India and these will be linked to training events and outreach meetings open to the wider community. Each researcher will spend at least one month working in partner country laboratory on joint activity.
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