The integration of high temperature fuel cells — molten carbonate and solid oxide — and gas turbine engines for efficient power generation is not new. Different strategies for integrating both systems have been proposed in the past ten years and there are some field tests being run presently. However, the commercial availability of such power systems seems to be continuously delayed, probably due to cost and reliability problems. The materials used in high temperature fuel cells are expensive and their cost is not decreasing at the expected pace. In fact, it looks as if they had reached stabilization. Therefore, there seems to be agreement that operating at a lower temperature might be the only way to achieve more competitive costs to enter the market, as metallic materials could then be used. From the point of view of conventional hybrid systems, decreasing the operating temperature of the cell would affect the efficiency of the bottoming cycle dramatically, as long as turbine inlet temperature is a critical parameter for the performance of a Brayton cycle. This is the reason why hybrid systems perform better with solid oxide fuel cells operating at 1000 °C than with molten carbonate cells at 650 °C typically. This work presents a hybrid system comprising a high temperature fuel cell, either SOFC or MCFC, and a bottoming Brayton cycle working with supercritical carbon dioxide. A parametric analysis is done where all the parameters affecting the performance of the hybrid system are studied, with emphasis in the bottoming cycle. For the Brayton cycle: pressure ratio, expansion and compression efficiencies, recuperator effectiveness, pressure losses, turbine inlet temperature... For the fuel cell: fuel utilization, current density, operating temperature, etc. From this analysis, optimum operating point and integration scheme are established and, after this, a comparison with conventional hybrid systems using similar fuel cells is done. Results show that, although the fuel cell is not pressurized in the CO2 based system, its performance is similar to the best conventional cycle. Furthermore, if lower operating temperatures are considered for the fuel cell, the new system performs better than any of the conventional.

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