APL Colloquium

April 27, 2007

Colloquium Topic: Solid Oxide Fuel Cells: Challenges for Applications Beyond Hydrogen

Due to their high temperature operation, solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC's) are being considered for operation with hydrocarbons - either with fuel pre-reforming to syngas or with direct injection of hydrocarbon fuels. The potential for stable SOFC operation with hydrocarbon fuels allows for high efficiency energy conversion to electrical power for applications including handheld power, small-scale propulsion, and large-scale central power plants. Current SOFC anode materials and microstructure however has not been well optimized for direct utilization of hydrocarbons, and thus the University of Maryland (UMD) in collaboration with other institutions are exploring both how anode microstructure and material influence electrochemical oxidation in SOFC's and how anode design can be optimized for operation with hydrocarbon reformate (syngas) and/or with direct hydrocarbon feeds. This presentation will discuss a range of efforts at UMD to explore fundamental issues related to the surface chemistry of electrochemical oxidation and to develop design tools both for material structure optimization as well as larger-scale system integration issues for some selected applications. The use of microfabricated fuel cells and their links to microkinetic models will be shown to be a critical tool in evaluating uncertain aspects of SOFC that must be resolved for the building of improved numerical design and performance analysis tools.

Colloquium Speaker: Greg Jackson

Gregory S. Jackson is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland performing research in electrocatalysis in solid oxide fuel cells, catalysis for oxidation and lean-NOx reduction, and lean premixed combustion for low-emissions combustion technology. Dr. Jackson received his Ph.D from Cornell University in Mechanical Engineering where he performed research on droplet combustion. After graduating from Cornell, Dr. Jackson spent several years at Precision Combustion Inc. where he managed development projects related to catalytic systems for ultra-low-NOx catalytic combustion and for ignition stabilization in diesel engines and gas turbines. Dr. Jackson joined the faculty at the University of Maryland in 1997 where he has established the Reacting Flow Laboratory, and in collaboration with colleagues in the Department of Chemistry, he co-directs the Center for Fuel Cell Research.