FE researchers at NETL have developed a unique test platform, called the multi-cell array (MCA), to rapidly test multiple fuel cells and determine how they degrade when contaminants exist in the fuel stream, such as might occur when using syngas from a coal gasifier.
Fuel cells are an energy user's dream: an efficient, combustion-less, virtually pollution-free power source, capable of being sited in downtown urban areas or in remote regions that runs almost silently and has few moving parts.
A fuel cell is a galvanic cell that has active materials (e.g., fuel and oxidizer), which are continuously supplied from a source external to the cell and the reaction products continuously removed converting chemical energy to electrical energy. Over a dozen types of fuel cells exist. Developments continue as motivated by the desirability of bigger sizes, more endurance, more power density, less emissions, or lower cost to list a few. The Office of Fossil Energy concentrates its fuel cell research, development, and deployment on Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC) to be fueled with gasified solid hydrocarbons.
The Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA), founded in the fall of 1999, is collaboration between the Federal Government, private industry, academic institutions and national laboratories devoted to the development of low-cost, modular, and fuel-flexible solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology suitable for a variety of power generation applications.