Thermal management in the fuel cell component of a direct fired solid oxide fuel cell gas turbine (SOFC/GT) hybrid power system, especially during an imposed load transient, can be improved by effective management and control of the cathode air mass flow. The response of gas turbine hardware system and the fuel cell stack to the cathode air mass flow transient was evaluated using a hardware-based simulation facility designed and built by the U.S. Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).

The disturbances of the cathode air mass flow were accomplished by diverting air around the fuel cell system through the manipulation of a hot-air bypass valve in open loop experiments. The dynamic responses of the SOFC/GT hybrid system were studied in this paper.

The evaluation included distributed temperatures, current densities, heat generation and losses along the fuel cell over the course of the transient along with localized temperature gradients. The reduction of cathode air mass flow resulted in a sharp decrease and partial recovery of the thermal effluent from the fuel cell system in the first 10 seconds. In contrast, the turbine rotational speed did not exhibit a similar trend. The collection of distributed fuel cell and turbine trends obtained will be used in the development of controls to mitigate failure and extend life during operational transients.

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