Fuel cells are very flexible energy conversion devices and in particular MCFC power generating system are among the most promising for stationary power generation. Potentially, MCFCs can be fed by a great variety of gaseous fuels comprising low calorific values gases like landfill gas. Thanks to fuel processing technologies, like gasification, suitable anode input gases can also be obtained from solid matters. Coal, but also RDF (Refuse Derived Fuel), industrial waste and biomasses are potential fuels for the fuel cell technology after a specific treatment aimed to yield a proper gas for the cell requirements. The gases mentioned above are characterized by low calorific values, presence of inert gases, presence of carbon monoxide and dioxide, presence of various contaminants such as chlorine, sulphur and nitrogen compounds or metals and they can be utilized for power production in high temperature fuel cell units only after a proper clean-up treatment (tars, particulate and sulphur removal). Although interest in alternative fuels for fuel cells has spread in the recent years, most research activity related to fuel treatment has been performed on methane. The biggest drawback deriving from this situation is a general lack of information. When present, moreover, the information is often contradictory. An example of this is given by the acceptable contaminants levels for molten carbonate fuel cells about which there are not values that are based on sufficient experimental evidence. Unfortunately the design of a clean-up system, the choice of the best technology, the optimization of the BOP relies just on these values. In this work a literature research and an analysis of the present knowledge about the effect of impurities in fuel for fuel cells has been preformed. The goal is the definition of concentration levels that can be tolerated by MCFCs and the degradation in performance or the reduction of cell life related to the presence of different pollutants. A second step of the work is the comparison of the levels of impurities tolerated by the cells with those present in the different low calorific value gases in order to define the clean-up requirements. The research priorities in this field have been pointed out. Finally, the project of the fuel cell team of University of Perugia about this topic is briefly described.

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