A three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model has been created to model high-temperature steam electrolysis in a planar solid oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC). The model represents a single cell, as it would exist in an electrolysis stack. Details of the model geometry are specific to a stack that was fabricated by Ceramatec, Inc. and tested at the Idaho National Laboratory. Mass, momentum, energy, and species conservation and transport are provided via the core features of the commercial CFD code FLUENT. A solid-oxide fuel cell (SOFC) module adds the electrochemical reactions and loss mechanisms and computation of the electric field throughout the cell. The FLUENT SOFC user-defined subroutine was modified for this work to allow for operation in the SOEC mode. Model results provide detailed profiles of temperature, Nernst potential, operating potential, activation over-potential, anode-side gas composition, cathode-side gas composition, current density and hydrogen production over a range of stack operating conditions. Mean model results are shown to compare favorably with experimental results obtained from an actual ten-cell stack tested at INL. Mean per-cell area-specific-resistance (ASR) values decrease with increasing current density, consistent with experimental data. Predicted mean outlet hydrogen and steam concentrations vary linearly with current density, as expected. Effects of variations in operating temperature, gas flow rate, cathode and anode exchange current density, and contact resistance from the base case are presented. Discussion of thermal neutral voltage, enthalpy of reaction, hydrogen production, cell thermal efficiency, cell electrical efficiency, and Gibbs free energy are discussed and reported herein.

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