With increasing environmental concerns and rising oil costs, fuel cells are attracting great interest for transportation and power generation applications as a cleaner and cheaper alternative. In recognition of this, the CD adapco Group in partnership with the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), has developed a new Expert System, es-sofc, which is playing an important role in optimizing SOFC (Solid Oxide Fuel Cell) design.
Fuel cells convert the chemical energy of a fuel, such as hydrogen, into electrical energy without combustion, with little or no emission of pollutants and efficient electrical power generation. This is a significant improvement over internal combustion engines. The new es-sofc tool is Ågknowledge basedÅh, carrying with it the essential electrochemistry, fluid flow, heat transfer, and geometrical modeling capabilities required for advanced SOFC design.
es-sofc works with the CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) solver STAR-CD, as a specialized virtual design, prototyping and testing environment. Typical issues that can be handled include: correcting the distributions of fuel and oxidant to the stack, mitigation of excessive thermal gradients along with temperature prediction for the calculation of thermally induced stresses, and manifold/flow passage optimization. These aspects together with gaining a better understanding of the electrochemistry and thermal properties involved, lead to optimized solid oxide fuel cell performance.
According to Gary McVay, who oversees fuel cell development at PNNL, “ As a national lab, our role in the development of solid-oxide-fuel-cell technology is to create the knowledge base and tools that assist industry in meeting production goals. Commercialization of modeling tools with a company such as the CD adapco Group is an important part of our overall mission.
For more information about fuel cells, click here.