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DOE to award ~$13.5M to 16 R&D projects for solid-oxide fuel cell technologies

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) has selected 16 projects to receive approximately $13.5 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development (R&D) projects that will advance solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technologies.

SOFC technologies enable efficient, cost-effective electricity generation from abundant domestic coal and natural gas resources, with minimal use of water and near-zero atmospheric emissions of carbon dioxide and pollutants. The selected projects support the Department’s SOFC program by helping to mature the technology for commercial use to efficiently generate low-cost electricity.

The selected projects are funded under two FOAs: DE-FOA-0001850: Preliminary Design and Techno-Economic Analysis of MWe-Class Solid Oxide Fuel Cell and DE-FOA-0001853: Solid Oxide Fuel Cells Core Technology Research.

Applications for the latter were sought in two areas of interest (AOI): AOI 1 – Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC) Core Technology Research and AOI 2 – Core Technology Research and Development (R&D) in Support of Near-Term SOFC Power Systems Prototype Tests.

AOI 1 supports the following goals and objectives:

  • Improve cell performance (power density)

  • Reduce system performance degradation

  • Improve system reliability and durability

  • Cost reduction via improvements in materials and manufacturing

AOI 2 supports projects that address and resolve reliability issues that are related to the long-term operation (a minimum of 5,000 hours) of second-generation SOFC power systems prototype tests in an operational environment. R&D areas of interest included, but were not limited to:

  • Cell manufacturing and quality control

  • Stack manufacturing and quality control

  • Purpose-specific components

  • Thermal and flow management between stacks and between modules

  • Instrumentation and controls

Preliminary Design and Techno-Economic Analysis of MWe-Class Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Systems

  1. MW-Class SOFC Pilot System Development. FuelCell Energy Inc. will develop a conceptual design of a MWe-class SOFC power system and complete a techno-economic analysis to demonstrate that the system can meet a cost target of no more than $6,000 per kilowatt electric (kWe) at low-volume production levels.

    DOE Funding: $1,500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $375,001; Total Value: $1,875,001

  2. Techno-Economic Analysis of an LGFCS MWe-Class SOFC System. LG Fuel Cell Systems Inc. aims to perform a range of technical, cost, and economic analyses of the design for a MWe-scale natural gas-fired SOFC system for distributed power generation.

    DOE Funding: $970,224; Non-DOE Funding: $242,556; Total Value: $1,212,780

Solid Oxide Fuel Cells Core Technology Research

Area of Interest 1: SOFC Core Technology Research

  1. Multi-Gas Sensors for Enhanced Reliability of SOFC Operation. GE Global Research will build and field test gas sensors for monitoring hydrogen and carbon monoxide anode tail gases produced in situ via on-site steam reforming in SOFC systems.

    DOE Funding: $460,696; Non-DOE Funding: $153,865; Total Funding: $614,561

  2. Robust Highly Durable Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Cathodes – Improved Materials Compatibility & Self-Regulating Surface Chemistry. Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers will develop electrodes that are inherently more tolerant to chromium and silicon impurities in the SOFC cathode operating environment.

    DOE Funding: $500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $125,000; Total: $625,000

  3. High-Performance Circuit Pastes for Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Applications. Michigan State University researchers will evaluate the benefit of using a new silver-nickel metal system for circuit paste applications.

    DOE Funding: $500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $130,518; Total Funding: $630,518

  4. Sputtered Thin Films for Very High Power, Efficient, and Low-Cost Commercial SOFCs. Redox Power Systems LLC researchers will demonstrate a significant increase in power density in Redox SOFCs using sputtered electron-blocking, buffer, and cathode functional layers. Researchers will also demonstrate that the sputtering process can be optimized to a high throughput, low cost per watt fabrication route.

    DOE: $499,988; Non-DOE: $125,000; Total: $624,988

  5. Capture of Airborne Cr, Si, S and B Gaseous Species for the Mitigation of SOFC Cathode Poisoning: Low Cost Alkaline-Transition Metal Oxide Getters and Validation in SOFC System (TRL 5). University of Connecticut researchers will mitigate electrochemical poisoning of the cathode by identifying, fabricating, testing, and validating cost-effective formulations and designs to capture airborne gaseous species entering SOFC power generation systems operating from 600–900 °C.

    DOE: $500,000; Non-DOE: $125,000; Total: $625,000

  6. Development of High-Performance SOFCs with a Superior Stability for Reliable and Durable Power Systems. University of Louisiana at Lafayette researchers will examine three types of cathodes to study the role of interlayer chemistry and microstructure on the improvement of performance stability and electrochemical activity.

    DOE Funding: $499,999; Non-DOE Funding: $125,000; Total Funding: $624,999

  7. Tuning Surface Stoichiometry of SOFC Electrodes at the Molecular and Nano Scale for Enhanced Performance and Durability. University of Maryland researchers will develop novel surface modification approaches to enhance the stability and performance of SOFC electrodes (cathode and anode) by controlling the surface stoichiometry of metal oxides.

    DOE Funding: $500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $125,000; Total Funding: $625,000

  8. Enhancing Coking Tolerance and Stability of SOFC Anodes using Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) of Oxide – Thin Films. University of Pennsylvania researchers will address unresolved anode degradation issues via atomic layer deposition to form oxide overlayers on nickel–yttria-stabilized zirconia cermet anodes to suppress whisker formation, reduce coarsening, and suppress oxidation of the reduced nickel.

    DOE Funding: $500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $125,000; Total Funding: $625,000

  9. A Transformational Natural Gas-Fueled, Dynamic SOFC for Data Center In-Rack Power. University of South Carolina researchers will advance newly invented solid fuel bed SOFC technology, which combines an anode-support tubular SOFC with an on-anode metal bed, for commercial applications in critical data centers in-rack power systems.

    DOE Funding: $500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $125,000; Total Funding: $625,000

  10. Cost-Effective, Thin-Film SOFCs for Reliable Power Generation. – University of South Carolina researchers will develop and demonstrate an advanced metal supported SOFC technology to cost-effectively and reliably generate electricity directly from hydrocarbon fuels (e.g., natural gas) for distributed and central generation applications.

  11. Chromium-Tolerant, Highly Active and Stable Electrocatalytic Internal Surface Coating for Cathode of Commercial SOFCs. West Virginia University researchers will develop a chromium-tolerant, highly active, stable coating layer and apply it to the internal surfaces of porous composite cathodes from commercially available SOFCs via atomic layer deposition. The project is expected to result in commercial cells with a 50% greater power density throughout the entire SOFC operational temperature range of 650–800 °C.

    DOE Funding: $500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $128,772; Total Funding: $628,772

  12. Computationally Guided Design of Multiple Impurities Tolerant Electrode. Worcester Polytechnic Institute researchers will design, test, and validate cathode materials for SOFCs that maintain high-performance and low-degradation rates under simultaneously present, multiple impurities using a combined integrated computational materials engineering and lab-scale testing approach.

    DOE Funding: $499,993; Non-DOE Funding: $128,928; Total Value: $628,921

Area of Interest 2: Core Technology R&D in Support of Near-Term SOFC Power Systems Prototype Tests

  1. Next-Generation Durable, Cost-Effective, Energy-Efficient Tubular SOFC. Atrex Energy Inc. researchers will develop and optimize cell technology for low-cost, low-temperature, high-energy-efficiency operation.

    DOE Funding: $1,999,998; Non-DOE Funding: $502,028; Total Funding: $2,502,026

  2. Next Generation SOFC Module Development. FuelCell Energy Inc. researchers will develop and test a modular SOFC building block (greater than 40 kW) utilizing a second-generation core stack technology implemented in an innovative array design.

    DOE Funding: $2,999,998; Non-DOE Funding: $750,000; Total Funding: $3,749,998



Not much but better than nothing.


Is solid oxide fuel cell research doublespeak for clean coal and gas(fossil fuel) and another way to continue the fossil fuel status quo?


This type of diversified R & D may find ways to better use Coal & Gas and eventually produce lower cost cleaner electricity for base loads and replace polluting CPPs and NGPPs?


I surprise they don't mention bio-fuels, it's easier to sell these days.

Many of the simpler alkanes and alcohols can be used in a SOFC.



We can run SOFCs on bio methane, CO2 neutral with no combustion.
You can generate electricity then use the heat to do adsorption cooling.


More to the point, you can generate electricity and use the heat to run a gas turbine, THEN use the waste heat to do heating or adsorption cooling.

The playoff between SOFC and GT is interesting.  The push for SOFCs has been to run them at ever-lower temperatures to make materials issues simpler, while GTs have long been pushed to higher temperatures to get better thermal efficiency (NOx may have put a limit on that by now).  FCs in general get better efficiency at low power levels because ionic gradients aren't as large so cell voltage is higher; GTs are best at 100%.  Using an SOFC as the first stage of heat supply for a GT can get some of the best of both worlds.

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