The objective of this work is the development of a practical computational model of a carbonate fuel cell stack. Previously published carbonate fuel cell models have focused more on the fundamental mechanisms of fuel cell operation than on evaluation of practical fuel cell product designs. Efficient development of a fuel cell product requires a predictive tool that couples all the important mechanisms with the capability to evaluate the performance of many design iterations quickly. The important mechanisms typically include three dimensional fluid flow, heat and mass transfer, gas-phase and surface chemistry, electrochemistry and structural mechanics. For large-scale fuel cell with applications in the power generation industry, thermal management is of significant interest for stack performance, reliability and life. Minimizing peak cell temperatures improves cell life and minimizing stack temperature gradients reduces stack thermal stress and improves cell performance. In this paper, the fuel cell model is presented along with experimental data validating its accuracy and predictive capabilities. The tool has proven to be a valuable asset for design evaluation and optimization of fuel cell stack designs at FuelCell Energy.

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