Efficient and low polluting production of electricity and heat is an issue which cannot be postponed. Fuel cells, which convert the chemical energy stored in a fuel into electrical and thermal energy, are an efficient solution for such a problem. These devices rely on the combination of hydrogen and oxygen into water: oxygen is extracted from the air while hydrogen can be obtained from either fossil fuels or renewable sources. The use of biomass as hydrogen source in connection with fuel cells is an argument of particular interest, since high temperature gasification processes are actually utilized. Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC), working at high temperatures, have become therefore an interesting candidate to realize the internal reforming of the feed gas from a gasifier. The reforming reaction occurs at the anode of the SOFC, upstream and separated from the fuel cell reaction. The section of the anode where reforming occurs is adjacent to the section where electrochemical reaction occurs. So, heat produced by the electrochemical reaction can be transferred internally with minimal losses. Simulation models of the performance of SOFC stacks and biomass gasifiers are useful to visualize temperature, current and concentration distributions, which are difficult to measure by experimental techniques, allowing the definition of optimal choices in terms of geometries and operating conditions. In this work, an analysis of a SOFC coupled with a biomass gasifier is performed. The objective of this study is the identification of the main effects of the operating conditions on the fuel cell performance in terms of efficiency, and the distribution of the main electro-thermal-fluid-dynamics variables, namely current and temperature. A gasifier model has been implemented to calculate the equilibrium compositions using the Gibbs free energy minimization method. The obtained results are directly used to estimate the inlet gas composition for the SOFC. The SOFC has been modelled by a 3D approach (FLUENT), which solves the energy and mass transport and the internal reforming, coupled with a 0D electrolyte model which, starting from the local information in terms of gas composition, temperature and pressure, is able to predict the fuel cell performance in terms of electrical response and mass-energy fluxes. The whole model has been applied to the analysis of an integrated SOFC-gasifier system to address a planar SOFC response by varying the gasifier operating conditions and the global system performance.

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