Hybrid power systems based on high temperature fuel cells are a promising technology for the forthcoming distributed power generation market. For the most extended configuration, these systems comprise a fuel cell and a conventional recuperative gas turbine engine bottoming cycle, which recovers waste heat from the cell exhaust and converts it into useful work. The ability of these gas turbines to produce useful work relies strongly on a high fuel cell operating temperature. Thus, if molten carbonate fuel cells or the new generation intermediate temperature solid oxide fuel cells are used, the efficiency and power capacity of the hybrid system decrease dramatically. In this work, carbon dioxide is proposed as the working fluid for a closed supercritical bottoming cycle, which is expected to perform better for intermediate temperature heat recovery applications than the air cycle. Elementary fuel cell lumped-volume models for both solid oxide and molten carbonate are used in conjunction with a Brayton cycle thermodynamic simulator capable of working with open/closed and air/carbon dioxide systems. This paper shows that, even though the new cycle is coupled with an atmospheric fuel cell, it is still able to achieve the same overall system efficiency and rated power than the best conventional cycles being currently considered. Furthermore, under certain operating conditions, the performance of the new hybrid systems beats that of existing pressurized fuel cell hybrid systems with conventional gas turbines. From the results, it is concluded that the supercritical carbon dioxide bottoming cycle holds a very high potential as an efficient power generator for hybrid systems. However, costs and balance of plant analysis will have to be carried out in the future to check its feasibility.

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