Electrical Generation for More-Electric Aircraft Using Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

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This report examines the potential for Solid-Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC) to provide electrical generation on-board commercial aircraft. Unlike a turbine-based auxiliary power unit (APU) a solid oxide fuel cell power unit (SOFCPU) would be more efficient than using the main engine generators to generate electricity and would operate continuously during flight. The focus of this study is on more-electric aircraft which minimize bleed air extraction from the engines and instead use electrical power obtained from generators driven by the main engines to satisfy all major loads. The increased electrical generation increases the potential fuel savings obtainable through more efficient electrical ... continued below

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Whyatt, Greg A. & Chick, Lawrence A. April 1, 2012.

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Description

This report examines the potential for Solid-Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC) to provide electrical generation on-board commercial aircraft. Unlike a turbine-based auxiliary power unit (APU) a solid oxide fuel cell power unit (SOFCPU) would be more efficient than using the main engine generators to generate electricity and would operate continuously during flight. The focus of this study is on more-electric aircraft which minimize bleed air extraction from the engines and instead use electrical power obtained from generators driven by the main engines to satisfy all major loads. The increased electrical generation increases the potential fuel savings obtainable through more efficient electrical generation using a SOFCPU. However, the weight added to the aircraft by the SOFCPU impacts the main engine fuel consumption which reduces the potential fuel savings. To investigate these relationships the Boeing 787­8 was used as a case study. The potential performance of the SOFCPU was determined by coupling flowsheet modeling using ChemCAD software with a stack performance algorithm. For a given stack operating condition (cell voltage, anode utilization, stack pressure, target cell exit temperature), ChemCAD software was used to determine the cathode air rate to provide stack thermal balance, the heat exchanger duties, the gross power output for a given fuel rate, the parasitic power for the anode recycle blower and net power obtained from (or required by) the compressor/expander. The SOFC is based on the Gen4 Delphi planar SOFC with assumed modifications to tailor it to this application. The size of the stack needed to satisfy the specified condition was assessed using an empirically-based algorithm. The algorithm predicts stack power density based on the pressure, inlet temperature, cell voltage and anode and cathode inlet flows and compositions. The algorithm was developed by enhancing a model for a well-established material set operating at atmospheric pressure to reflect the effect of elevated pressure and to represent the expected enhancement obtained using a promising cell material set which has been tested in button cells but not yet used to produce full-scale stacks. The predictions for the effect of pressure on stack performance were based on literature. As part of this study, additional data were obtained on button cells at elevated pressure to confirm the validity of the predictions. The impact of adding weight to the 787-8 fuel consumption was determined as a function of flight distance using a PianoX model. A conceptual design for a SOFC power system for the Boeing 787 is developed and the weight estimated. The results indicate that the power density of the stacks must increase by at least a factor of 2 to begin saving fuel on the 787 aircraft. However, the conceptual design of the power system may still be useful for other applications which are less weight sensitive.

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  • Report No.: PNNL-21382
  • Grant Number: AC05-76RL01830
  • DOI: 10.2172/1056768 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1056768
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc838901

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • April 1, 2012

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 9:45 a.m.

Description Last Updated

  • Nov. 23, 2016, 5:45 p.m.

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Whyatt, Greg A. & Chick, Lawrence A. Electrical Generation for More-Electric Aircraft Using Solid Oxide Fuel Cells, report, April 1, 2012; Richland, Washington. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc838901/: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.