Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Chemical and Biomedical Engineering

Committee Chair

John W. Zondlo.


New and efficient methods of producing electrical energy from natural resources have become an important topic for researchers. Integrated gasification and fuel cell (IGFC) systems offer a fuel-flexible, high-efficiency method of energy generation. Specifically, in coal gasification processes, coal can be changed into a high-quality gaseous fuel suitable for feeding solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs). However, trace species found in coal synthesis gas (syngas) may have a deleterious effect on the performance of nickel-based SOFC anodes. Generally, the cost of removing these species down to parts per million (ppm) levels is high.;The purpose of this research is to determine the highest amount of contaminant that results in a low rate (∼1% per 1000 h) of cell performance degradation, allowing the SOFC to produce usable power for 40,000 hours. The cell performance degradation rate was determined for benzene, naphthalene, and mercury-doped syngas based on species concentration. Experimental data are fitted with degradation models to predict cell lifetime behavior. From these results, the minimum coal syngas cleanup required for these trace materials is determined. It is found that for a final cell voltage of 0.6 V, naphthalene and benzene must be cleaned to 360 ppm and less than 150 ppm, respectively. No additional cleaning is required for mercury beyond established environmental standards.;Additionally, a detailed attack and recovery mechanism is proposed for the hydrocarbon species and their interaction with the fuel cell. This mechanism is proposed by considering the type of degradation models predicted and how carbon would interact with the Ni-YSZ anode to justify those models. The mechanism postulates that carbon is diffusing into the nickel structure, creating a metal solution. Once the nickel is saturated, the carbon begins to deposit on the nickel surface, reducing the electrode active area. The formation of metal solutions and the deposition of carbon results in reduced cell productivity.