A ceramic heat exchanger with high effectiveness and low-pressure drop is being developed for application as a cathode air preheater for a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC). At the operating conditions of SOFCs, typical metallic alloys as those used in commercial heat exchangers may undergo chromium volatilization, which is a known cathode degradation mechanism that reduces SOFC performance and life. Use of ceramics such as alumina or alumina-silicate instead of chromium-containing metal is one approach to eliminate the effects of chromium on the SOFC cathode. This project leverages the geometric design of a heat exchanger previously prototyped and tested, and demonstrated to have a nearly constant heat transfer effectiveness of 92% with low pressure drop [1], to fabricate a novel heat exchanger made from a ceramic material. This paper calculates heat exchanger performance requirements based on state of the art SOFC operating conditions, presents a thermal-based tradeoff analysis for ceramic material selection, and presents a modular heat exchanger and its heat exchange elements. The modular concept presented allows for incremental aggregation of modules to target a broad range of operating conditions typical of present and upcoming SOFC applications (e.g., 25 to 400 kWe). A fabricated sample ceramic heat exchange element is shown to demonstrate the viability of the concept for a real SOFC application.

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