Advanced SOFC technologies for low carbon, energy efficient and affordable power

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Electronic and Electrical Engineering


This project involves the research, design, development and validation of complex Solid Oxide Fuel systems for stationary power generation applications. It leverages unique aerospace system integration techniques to address durability, power density, high efficiency and affordability. The work packages range from basic research on ceramics and system materials, thermal cycles and innovative components, through to applied research into the design and development of sub-systems and testing of integrated systems. The research programme will be conducted in collaboration with predominantly UK companies and universities, and will complement work already funded by EPSRC, Carbon Trust and EMDA; it will also leverage work being undertaken in Singapore, USA and Europe where state support has been successfully attracted. The programme will reinforce the UK as a leader in this environmentally friendly fuel cell technology.


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Johnstone, W Calibration free, optical measurements of gas composition for industrial process control in harsh environments in Fifth International Conference on Condition Monitoring and Machine Failure Prevention Technologies

Description Techniques to measure the concentrations of specific gases (mainly methane and water vapour) extracted from various active regions of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) at temperatures of over 800C and pressures up to 8 atmospheres were successfully realised and tested in situ. Spectroscopic analytical tools, hardware, software and measurement procedures were researched, developed and validated for this purpose during the course of the programme. Indeed Rolls-Royce Fuel Cells Systems (RRFCS) stated that these are the only viable techniques to make such measurements in future commercial products. Indeed, RRFCS, with our assistance are still using these approaches in their research and development programmes and are intending to develop the techniques further to become suitable for commercial product. Strathclyde is continuing to assist them in moving towards that.

Some of the key findings were published as follows: M Lengden, R Cunningham and W. Johnstone, "Tuneable diode laser gas analyser for methane measurements on a large scale solid oxide fuel cell" Journal of Power Sources, 196, 20, pp8406-08 2011 DOI: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2011.06.020.

In addition further work has beed submitted recently for publication in Journal of Lightwave Technology.
Exploitation Route Instruments have been built by OptoSci Ltd. for use by Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems Ltd. (RRFCS) to measure methane and water concentration at strategic points in their solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) development set-ups. They are now in use and assisting RRFCS in their research and development programmes. RRFCS have stated that the technology developed under this programme is the preferred approach to in-situ, real time health monitoring in future commercial products. It is planned to develop instrumentation for deployment in commercial SOFC products under development at RRFCS.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy

Description The techniques to measure gas concentration in solid oxide fuel cells at high temperature were first developed and proven in concept within the research programme of the grant, DT/E010105/1. Demonstration and proof of concept was enabled by installation and operation on solid oxide fuel cells built for research and development by Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems (RRFCS). The technology has been transferred to a small company - OptoSci Ltd. who have designed and built an advanced engineering prototype for a commercial product. RRFCS have purchased an advanced prototype from OptoSci Ltd. and have been trained in its use by Strathclyde University staff. It is now in routine use as a replacement for gas chromatographs for some gas measurements within their R & D programmes. The long term intention is to completely replace gas chromatographs in R & D and to adopt the new technology for condition monitoring in future fuel cell products.
First Year Of Impact 2009
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy
Impact Types Economic

Description Joint research with Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems Ltd 
Organisation Rolls Royce Group Plc
Department Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems Limited
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution University of Strathclyde researchers worked on this project with researchers from Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems Ltd
Start Year 2007
Description Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems Ltd 
Organisation Rolls Royce Group Plc
Department Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems Limited
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2007
Description Presentation titled Development of tunable diode laser spectroscopy instrumentation for gas species measurements in harsh environments at conference titled Applied Industrial Optics: Spectroscopy, Imaging, and Metrology 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Presentation of findings to the wider research community

Not recorded
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013