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Microturbine / Fuel-Cell Coupling for High-Efficiency Electrical-Power Generation

[+] Author Affiliations
Aristide F. Massardo

Universita di Genova, Genova, Italy

Colin F. McDonald

McDonald Thermal Engineering, La Jolla, CA

Theodosios Korakianitis

Washington University, St. Louis, MO

Paper No. 2000-GT-0175, pp. V002T04A026; 8 pages
  • ASME Turbo Expo 2000: Power for Land, Sea, and Air
  • Volume 2: Coal, Biomass and Alternative Fuels; Combustion and Fuels; Oil and Gas Applications; Cycle Innovations
  • Munich, Germany, May 8–11, 2000
  • Conference Sponsors: International Gas Turbine Institute
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-7855-2
  • Copyright © 2000 by ASME


Microturbines and fuel cells are currently attracting a lot of attention to meet future users needs in the distributed generation market. This paper addresses a preliminary analysis of a representative state-of-the-art 50 kW microturbine coupled with a high-temperature solid-oxide fuel cell (SOFC). The technologies of the two elements of such a hybrid-power plant are in a different state of readiness. The microturbine is in an early stage of pre-production and the SOFC is still in the development phase. It is premature to propose an optimum solution. Based on today’s technology the hybrid plant, using natural gas fuel, would have a power output of about 389 kW, and an efficiency of 60 percent. If the waste heat is used the overall fuel utilization efficiency would about 80 percent. Major features, parameters and performance of the microturbine and the SOFC are discussed. The compatibility of the two systems is addressed, and the areas of technical concern, and mismatching issues are identified and discussed. Fully understanding these, and identifying solutions, is the key to the future establishing of an optimum overall system. This approach is viewed as being in concert with evolving technological changes. In the case of the microturbine changes will be fairly minor as they enter production on a large scale within the next year or so, but are likely to be significant for the SOFC in the next few years, as extensive efforts are expended to reduce unit cost. It is reasonable to project that a high performance and cost-effective hybrid plant, with high reliability, will be ready for commercial service in the middle of the first decade of the 21st century.

While several microturbines can be packaged to give an increased level of power, this can perhaps be more effectively accomplished by coupling just a single gas turbine module with a SOFC. The resultant larger power output unit opens up new market possibilities in both the industrial nations and developing countries.

Copyright © 2000 by ASME



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