National Institute of Fuel-Cell Technology
Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
West Virginia University
Almost all calculations and projections indicate that coal will be and should be a major source of power generation in the United States in the foreseeable future. It is also now an accepted fact that due to global warming effects man made green house gases such as NO x and CO 2 must be reduced. High temperature fuel cells are perceived to be one possible alternative whereby coal, either as solid fuel (in direct Carbon Fuel Cells , DCFC) or as syngas ( in solid oxide fuel cells , SOFC), can be utilized more efficiently and also in an environmentally friendly manner. Since there is no mixed air-fuel combustion and the operating temperature of these cells are still relatively low, NO x is not a problem. The unavoidable by product CO 2 needs to be captured and somehow sequestered. But, even if this is not the case, much less of it will be produced primarily because of the high efficiencies (perhaps as high as 60-70 %) anticipated from next generation hybrid power systems involving fuel cells as components. However, there is one other problem which most often escapes attention; that is the presence of some contaminants such as compounds containing Sulfur, Arsenic, Phosphorous, Chlorine etc. These contaminants often present at minute amounts (less than 10 pmm) may cause significant degradation in cell performance. Unless problems pertaining to such contaminants are solved, the perceived advantages of using coal as fuel in high temperature fuel cells may remain as a dream.
In the light of the above, researchers at West Virginia University have established the National Institute for FuelCell Technology (NIFT) and embarked on an ambitious research program with the goal of solving critical problems associated with using coal syngas as the fuel of choice. A multi-scale approach with a multi-disciplinary team is being implemented that involves large scale computing, materials development and manufacturing, and extensive laboratory testing for the stated purpose. The current Mini-Symposium which specifically focuses on "Coal Based Fuel Cell Technology" is undertaken as part of this overall effort with the objective of technical exchange of information, but above all for critical evaluation and discussion of apparent technical problems related to afore-mentioned topical area.
It is wished that all participants will benefit from this special activity. Similar symposia will follow at regular intervals. With sincere appreciation of contributions by all participants.
Ismail B. Celik, Ph.D
Randall S. Gemmen, Ph.D
(Symposium Coordinators, October 10 2007)
This program is jointly supported by: US Department of Energy (DOE) Basic energy Sciences, The WV state EPSCoR, West Virginia University Research Corporation. National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), and National Research Center for Coal and Energy (NRCCE).
The coordinators would like to thank to: Nextech Materials, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science ( University of Pittsburgh ) and the Department of Physics and Engineering of the Frostburg State University for their support in the organization of this event.
Special thanks are due to: Paul Hill, Curt Peterson, Eugene Cilento, Kristin Bennett, Lane Wilson, Wayne Surdoval and Mark Williams.
Barbara R. Dalton (Program Assistant) deserves many thanks for doing all she can to make this symposium a success. Contributions from all the faculty and the graduate students associated with NIFT (National Institute for Fuel Cell research) and CFD & AMP (Computational Fluid Dynamics and Applied Multi-Physics) center at WVU are greatly appreciated and valued with utmost sincerity.
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