Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Chemical and Biomedical Engineering

Committee Chair

John W. Zondlo.


The Direct Carbon Fuel Cell (DCFC) is an efficient, environmentally friendly way to supply the United States with electrical power using its abundant coal reserves. The cell employs a process by which carbon is directly converted to electricity, without the need for combustion or gasification. The thermodynamic efficiency of a DCFC is 80%. The purpose of this research is to renovate fuel cell test stands provided by the US DOE, and to investigate the operation of the DCFC with a variety of solid carbons from several sources. The highly organized carbon form, graphite, is used as the benchmark of the research because of its availability and stability. Another form, which is produced at West Virginia University (WVU), uses different mixtures of Solvent Extracted Carbon Ore (SECO) and petroleum coke. The SECO is derived from coal and both it and the petroleum coke are low in ash, sulfur, and volatiles. Compared to graphite, the SECO is a less-ordered form of carbon. In addition, GrafTech, Inc. supplied a well-fabricated baked carbon rod for testing. The open cell voltage of the SECO rod reaches a maximum of 1.043V while the baked and graphite rods only reach 0.972V and 0.788V respectively. Typical power densities are in the range of 0.02 to 0.08 W/cm2, while current densities were between 30 and 230 W/cm2. This suggests that coal can be used as a fuel source in DCFCs and will provide higher voltage than graphite.