Thermally self-sustaining operation of tubular solid oxide fuel cells integrated with a hybrid partial oxidation reformer using propane

Jong Eun Hong, Usman Mushtaq, Seung Bok Lee, Rak Hyun Song, Tak Hyoung Lim (Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Tubular solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) can be applied in a diverse range of applications, such as critical military missions, auxiliary power units, and portable power generators. In particular, portable power-generation devices may have to meet the requirements of rapid start-up, thermally self-sustaining operation, high thermal shock resistance, and high power density relative to the weight. This work presents the design and performance of a tubular SOFC stack integrated with a hybrid catalytic partial oxidation (CPOX) reformer, an afterburner (A/B), and a heat exchanger (HEX), which enables the stack operation without any external heat source with propane as a fuel. The SOFC stack that was made with four anode-supported tubular SOFCs was assembled with fuel and air chambers. The hybrid COPX reformer that was fed with a pre-mixture of propane and air acted as a start-up burner at the initial period operation to heat the stack up and then a reformer to provide a syngas to the stack when it reached an elevated temperature (700–800 °C). The A/B also provided heat energy to the stack by oxidizing the unreacted fuel and air of the stack anode and cathode exhaust, respectively. The stack first underwent a pre-treatment which reduced the anode support in a programmable furnace. The preliminary electrochemical performance of the stack was assessed while feeding a mixture gas of H2 and N2 as the fuel. Next, the pre-treated stack was integrated with the hybrid reformer, A/B, and HEX and insulated to investigate the thermally self-sustaining rapid operation capabilities by using propane as the fuel. In the integrated SOFC system, the stack reached 780 °C within an hour upon operation and generated 12 W of output power, thus demonstrating the feasibility of the system for portable power generations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-142
Number of pages11
JournalEnergy Conversion and Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a grant from the Korea CCS R&D Center ( KCRC ) (No. 2014M1A8A1049298 ) funded by the Korean government (Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning). Moreover, this work was conducted under the framework of the research and development program of the Korea Institute of Energy Research ( B9-2412 ). The authors greatly appreciate the provision of the catalyst material for the fabrication of CPOX reformer from Dr. Un Ho Jung.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • Catalytic partial oxidation reformer
  • Hydrocarbon fuel
  • Thermally self-sustaining operation
  • Tubular SOFC


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