A techno-economic optimization study investigating optimal design and operating strategies of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) micro-combined heat and power (CHP) systems for application in U.S. residential dwellings is carried out through modeling and simulation of various anode-supported planar SOFC-based system configurations. Five different SOFC system designs operating from either methane or hydrogen fuels are evaluated in terms of their energetic and economic performances and their overall suitability for meeting residential thermal-to-electric ratios. Life-cycle cost models are developed and employed to generate optimization objective functions, which are utilized to explore the sensitivity of the life-cycle costs to various system designs and economic parameters and to select optimal system configurations and operating parameters for eventual application in single-family, detached residential homes in the U.S. The study compares the results against a baseline SOFC-CHP system that employs primarily external steam reforming of methane. The results of the study indicate that system configurations and operating parameter selections that enable minimum life-cycle cost while achieving maximum CHP-system efficiency are possible. Life-cycle cost reductions of over 30% and CHP efficiency improvements of nearly 20% from the baseline system are detailed.

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