Compact subsystems are pivotal to aeronautical applications, inclusive of advanced energy concepts. Regarding size minimization, an “exergogravimetric” approach has recently begun that attempts an exergy-aided weight reduction of advanced energy systems (inclusive of fuel); and this is based upon the added design insights afforded by Second Law considerations. The chief rationale and objective are to leverage the advancements that exergoeconomics affords in the realm of cost-effective thermal system design to aid size-effective thermal system design. A conceptual solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) system for long-duration unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) applications has been initially modeled and simulated, inclusive of exergy analysis, and preliminary findings are discussed. Additionally, the concepts and methodologies can be extended to other advanced energy system technologies.

There are project-specific and general milestones and conclusions drawn from the initial investigation. Specific to the project, a conceptual SOFC system simulation was completed via physics-based and literature-verified models along with structured language (i.e., MATLAB) numerical implementation. Specific component-level contributions to lost power potential and added mass were preliminarily resolved. Thermal exergy destruction and loss are predominant sources of unutilized specific power potential. Operational and physical degrees-of-freedom were explored, with the aid of exergy analysis, to resolve better design pathways. This included a counterintuitive preliminary finding that larger cell interconnects may facilitate smaller and more efficient system operation.

Generally, exergy analyses allow a system design opportunity to gain higher resolution insights (i.e., to component- and spatial-extents) regarding inefficiencies throughout a thermal system, and this is afforded by the comprising blend of 1st Law and 2nd Law considerations. There is also an added means of accounting for 2nd Law effects. The traditional 2nd Law verification point of entropy generation being non-negative does not provide the same level of process analysis closure as does the related constraint that all processes have to account for exergy being stored, converted, destroyed or rejected through any defined control volume. This alternative 2nd Law perspective facilitates verification and validation of simulations.

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