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• The first fuel cells were invented in 1838. The first commercial use of fuel
cells came more than a century later in NASA space programs to generate
power for satellites and space capsules. Since then, fuel cells have been
used in many other applications. Fuel cells are used for primary and backup
power for commercial, industrial and residential buildings and in remote or
inaccessible areas. They are also used to power fuel cell vehicles, including
forklifts, automobiles, buses, boats, motorcycles and submarines.
• Nowadays, green technology has significantly advanced that individuals
have now many investment choices regarding renewable energies which will
allow them to reduce their energy bill and be environmentally responsible.
One of the most promising devices is the Solid Oxide Fuel Cell. SOFC is a
device that generates electricity directly from oxidizing a fuel. It is used for
its high efficiency (60%), durability, low cost, fuel flexibility, and low
emissions. The main issue of SOFC is the high operating temperature that
influence negatively the performance of the device.
Theodore Levitt, “Marketing Myopia,” Harvard Business Review, 1960
Fuel Cells

• A fuel cell is an electrochemical cell that converts the chemical

energy from a fuel into electricity through an electrochemical
reaction of hydrogen fuel with oxygen or another oxidizing agent.
Fuel cells are different from batteries in requiring a continuous
source of fuel and oxygen (usually from air) to sustain the chemical
reaction, whereas in a battery the chemical energy comes from
chemicals already present in the battery. Fuel cells can produce
electricity continuously for as long as fuel and oxygen are supplied
• Fuel cells are electrochemical cells consisting of two electrodes and
an electrolyte which convert the chemical energy of chemical
reaction between fuel and oxidant directly into Electrical energy.
• Polymer Electrolyte Membrane
• Solid Oxide Fuel Cell
• Direct Methanol Fuel Cell
• Proton exchange membrane fuel cell
• Molten carbonate fuel cell
• Alkaline fuel cell
• Phosphoric acid fuel cell
• Microbial Fuel Cell.

A solid oxide fuel cell is a device

that generates electricity directly
from oxidizing a fuel (it generates
energy based on a chemical
relation) .
Parts of solid oxide Fuel Cell
• Anode
– Negative post of the fuel cell.
– electrochemical oxidation of the fuel takes place.
H2 => 2H+ + 2e-
• Cathode
– Positive post of the fuel cell.
– electrochemical reduction of oxygen takes place.
1/ O + 2H+ + 2e- => H O
2 2 2
• Electrolyte
– Impermeable electrolyte
– The electrolyte is where component that allows the ion transportation
between electrodes.
– The main qualifications of the electrolyte are high oxygen conductivity, high
ion conductivity and no porosity.
Solid oxide Fuel Cell Operation
• Hydrogen flows into the fuel cell through the anode.
• Chemical reaction in the anode that separates the hydrogen
atoms into protons and electrons.
• Protons flow through electrolyte to the cathode.
• Oxygen flows into the fuel cell through the cathode.
• Chemical reaction in the cathode between the protons
coming from the anode, electrons and oxygen to produce
water and heat.
• The electrons flow to the electric circuit generating electricity.
Solid oxide Fuel Cell Efficiency
• Tubuler design SOFC is 50%

• Planar design SOFC is 61%

Auto Power Efficiency Comparison
Technology Efficiency
Fuel Cell 24-32%
Electric Battery 26%
Gasoline Engine 20%
Other Types of Fuel Cells
• Alkaline fuel cell (AFC)
– This is one of the oldest designs. It has been used in the U.S. space program since the
1960s. The AFC is very susceptible to contamination, so it requires pure hydrogen and
oxygen. It is also very expensive, so this type of fuel cell is unlikely to be commercialized.

• Phosphoric-acid fuel cell (PAFC)

– The phosphoric-acid fuel cell has potential for use in small stationary power-generation
systems. It operates at a higher temperature than PEM fuel cells, so it has a longer
warm-up time. This makes it unsuitable for use in cars.

• Molten carbonate fuel cell (MCFC)

– These fuel cells are also best suited for large stationary power generators. They operate
at 1,112 F (600 C), so they also generate steam that can be used to generate more
power. They have a lower operating temperature than the SOFC, which means they
don't need such exotic materials. This makes the design a little less expensive.
Advantages and Disadvantages
• Advantages
•The steam produced can be used to drive turbines and produce more
• Mechanically simple - it is a solid-state device.
•Can be fed natural gas directly.
• Disadvantages
•The high operating temperature requires exotic materials, such as ceramic.
•The ceramic materials used are expensive to manufacture and fragile.
•Manufacturing costs are high compared to gas turbines and coal power
Throughout this project, I had the chance to learn
about a new technology that is not so very popular which is the
solid oxide fuel cell. I had the chance to do a study of how SOFC
works, the different designs and Applications and the
disadvantages. This project is more of a research project.
S. Jazouli -


"On the Voltaic Polarization of Certain Solid and Fluid Substances" . The
London and Edinburgh Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science.