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Fuel Cells

Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC) are similar to batteries. They have an anode, a cathode and are separated by an electrolyte, except the fuel (energy course) flows over the anode and air flows over the cathode. In an SOFC, the components are ceramic. To conduct electrons through the anode, you must disperse a metalic conductor (usually nickel). And to conduct the oxygen ions to the anode through the electrolyte, you must heat the cells to high temperatures. Ohio  University has been working for nearly six years to use SOFCs with coal-derived synthesis gas.

The main problem is that coal syngas contains many contaminants that can damage the anode material – especially hydrogen sulfide. The sulfur will interact with nickel at higher temperatures, making the nickel unable to easily conduct electrons and unable to catalyze reactions between hydrogen and oxygen. In other words, it kills the fuel cell. Ohio Universityhas been working on novel anode materials and designs to make SOFCs compatible with coal-derived syngas. Our partners have included Cell Tech Power, Nextech Materials, NETL, and SOFCo-EFS (Now Rolls Royce Fuel Cell Systems).