Effective control of cathode airflow in a direct fired solid oxide fuel cell gas turbine (SOFC/GT) hybrid power system is critical to thermal management of a fuel cell stack. Hybrid fuel cell turbine designs often incorporate the use of a valved hot air bypass in parallel with the cathode flow to divert a portion of the compressor effluent around the fuel cell system. The primary objective of this valve in the early development of hybrid power systems was to facilitate system startup. From a system controls perspective, the hot air bypass offers the means to balance and manipulate the level of airflow supplied to the fuel cell stack at a minimal efficiency penalty. Manipulation of this valve has a significant impact on stack performance and reliability, as well as cathodic exhaust airflow conditions. Since the turbine is directly coupled to the fuel cell subsystem through the cathode airflow, non-linear effects are propagated through the system components in response to any hot air bypass valve change. The effect of cathode flow transients on hybrid system performance has been evaluated though the manipulation of a hot air bypass valve on a hardware-based simulation facility designed and built by the U.S. Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). A brief overview of this experimental facility is provided and has been described in more detail previously. Open loop experiments were conducted using the facility, where a perturbation was made to the hot air bypass flow and turbine speed was allowed to change in response. The impact of the transients to both fuel cell and turbine performance are discussed.

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