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Accepted Manuscript

Effect of Different Operating Strategies for a SOFC-GT Hybrid System Equipped
with Anode and Cathode Ejectors

Jinwei Chen, Yao Chen, Huisheng Zhang, Shilie Weng

PII: S0360-5442(18)31552-4

DOI: 10.1016/j.energy.2018.08.032

Reference: EGY 13508

To appear in: Energy

Received Date: 03 May 2018

Accepted Date: 04 August 2018

Please cite this article as: Jinwei Chen, Yao Chen, Huisheng Zhang, Shilie Weng, Effect of
Different Operating Strategies for a SOFC-GT Hybrid System Equipped with Anode and Cathode
Ejectors, Energy (2018), doi: 10.1016/j.energy.2018.08.032

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ACCEPTED MANUSCRIPT

Effect of Different Operating Strategies for a SOFC-GT Hybrid System Equipped
with Anode and Cathode Ejectors
Jinwei Chen, Yao Chen, Huisheng Zhang*, Shilie Weng
Gas Turbine Research Institute, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai 200240, P.R. China

Abstract: Ejector technology is introduced to perform the anode and cathode recirculation loops with low
maintenance costs and high reliability. Four different operating strategies were designed for the novel solid
oxide fuel cell-gas turbine hybrid system with anode and cathode ejectors to keep high efficiency and safety
at a part-load operating condition. The part-load characteristics under different operating strategies were
compared according to the simulation results. The comparison results show that the operating strategy has
great effect on the part-load performance of the hybrid system with anode and cathode ejectors.
Maintaining the SOFC operating temperature with variable speed operation has a great significance on the
system efficiency. Moreover, fuel utilization, turbine inlet temperature, fuel cell temperature should be
controlled and monitored to guarantee safely operating. Specifically, a concept of monitoring the
temperature difference between anode and cathode channel is proposed. It can effectively avoid huge fuel
cell temperature differences and compressor surge. Therefore, case 4 is an effective and appropriate
operating strategy, which adjusts the primary fuel flow rate of SOFC, rotational speed, assistant fuel flow
rate, compressor/turbine bypass flow rate to maintain turbine inlet temperature and temperature differences
between anode and cathode.

Key words: Solid oxide fuel cell; Gas turbine; Anode and cathode ejectors; Operating strategy

1. Introduction

Fossil fuels will continue to supply the vast majority of the world’s energy consumption in the
next decades, and will contribute about 78% of the total energy consumption according to the EIA
report [1]. The energy-hungry and environment issues are increasingly outstanding due to overuse of
the fossil fuels [2-4]. There is a growing realization on the significance of the sustainable
development. Establishment of an efficient, clean, economic energy structure has become the
consensus of the world [5-9]. It has generated a lot of attention towards the fuel cell-gas turbine hybrid
system as one of the most promising new energy conversion technologies due to its high efficiency
and low emissions [10-15]. Moreover, ejector technology can be introduced to perform the anode and
cathode recirculation loops, and it has lower maintenance costs and higher reliability compared with
high temperature blower [16, 17]. Ejector technology has been widely introduced in the SOFC
recirculation system, especially in the anode recirculation loop. Furthermore, the steady-state

*Corresponding author. Tel.: +86-21-34206030; fax: +86-21-34206013.
E-mail address: zhslm@sjtu.edu.cn (H. Zhang).

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performance of the SOFC-GT hybrid system with anode recirculation ejector has been investigated by
some researches [18-20].
Nevertheless, SOFC-GT hybrid system is highly nonlinear, multi-variable, and strongly coupled.
One of the challenges is to implement an effective operating strategy to guarantee the hybrid system
operate safely and efficiently at a part-load operating condition. In the past few decades, many
researchers have designed several operating strategies for different configurations of SOFC-GT
systems to maximize its performance. Costamagna et al [21] compared the part-load performance
between the fixed shaft speed strategy and variable shaft strategy. The fixed shaft speed operating
strategy causes great loss of efficiency at a part-load condition, while only a small loss of efficiency
occurs for a variable shaft operating strategy. Traverso et al [22] investigated the part-load
performance of two control strategies for a pressured SOFC-GT hybrid system. The results show that
an average efficiency decrease is about 0.05 if the load is reduced by 30%. Calises et al [23] compared
the part-load exergy performance of three different operating strategies for a SOFC-GT hybrid system.
Several parameters, such as fuel flow rate, air flow rate, combustor bypass, gas turbine bypass, are
handed to implement the operating strategies. The strategy with constant fuel to air ratio is most
efficient. Chan [24] designed a part-load operating strategy for a SOFC-GT hybrid system with an
external combustor. The system output power is adjusted through bypassing part of fuel to the external
combustor, which causes a significant decrease of system efficiency at a part-load condition. Bakalis
et al [25] designed two part-load operating strategies for a hybrid system with an anode ejector, which
keep either SOFC operating temperature or turbine outlet temperature (TOT) to avoid system
malfunctions. Ferrari et al [10] designed a control strategy for a hybrid system with an anode ejector.
Although many efforts have been done to investigate the part-load operating strategies for a
SOFC-GT hybrid system, most reports are based on a common structure of SOFC-GT hybrid systems,
which have one SOFC recirculation loop or even no one. There are only a few researches related to
the hybrid system with both anode and cathode recirculations, particularly performed by ejectors.
Furthermore, most studies focus on the effect of maintaining a separate parameter, such as separate
SOFC temperature, rotation speed, fuel utilization (FU), on the system part-load performance. A few
studies focus on an integrated operating strategy for the whole hybrid system. Meanwhile, the
investigations of the part-load performance are always on the system efficiency, ignoring the system
safety performance. Especially the SOFC temperature differences between different layers should be
monitored because it might be excessive, causing great thermal stresses at a part-load condition.
In our study, four different part-load operating strategies were implemented for a novel SOFC-GT
hybrid system equipped with ejectors for anode and cathode recirculation loops. The output power,
fuel utilization, anode inlet temperature, cathode inlet temperature, and turbine inlet temperature (TIT)
were maintained to implement the operating strategies. The part-load operation characteristics were

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compared from efficiency and safety under different operation strategies in order to find a feasible
part-load control strategy for the hybrid system with anode and cathode ejectors.

2. System Modeling Methodology

2.1 System description
The schematic of the SOFC-GT hybrid system with anode and cathode ejectors is shown in Fig. 1,
which has been proposed in our previous work [26]. It is a pressurized hybrid system fueled by natural
gas. The anode and cathode recirculation loops are employed in the hybrid system. The most
significant benefit of anode recirculation is to provide enough steam and heat for reforming reaction
and to avoid carbon deposition in the anode side. This choice avoids an external steam generating
system [16, 27, 28]. In order to enhance SOFC performance and avoid huge thermal stresses, SOFC
inlet air is preheated by means of recovering heat from cathode exhaust. To this end, the cathode
recirculation loop is an alternative option to the costly material of the air preheater [29, 30]. At the
same time, the recirculated cathode exhaust dilutes the O2 concentration and affects the SOFC
performance, such as air utilization. The anode and cathode exhausts can be recirculated by means of a
blower or ejector. Ejectors are higher reliability and lower costs in comparison with blowers. The
primary fluid has a significant pressure drop for the ejector-based recirculation loop. It is available at
high pressure and can avoid the blower electric consumption. However, it still requires high electric
consumption for compression when the primary fluid is at low pressure. Moreover, the outlet flow rate
and pressure cannot be controlled for a common ejector.

Exhaust gas 20
7
16 DIR-SOFC
Fuel 1 2 3 4 5 6
Anode
Splitter
Ejector RHE
HE Ejector 13 Splitter 15
Cathode
14
After
burner
12
Compressor Turbine
17
G
~ Generator

Assistant
Air 8 9 18 fuel
10 11

Blower HE
19

Fig. 1 The integration scheme of the SOFC-GT system

The recirculated anode exhaust is used to mix a part of the anodic outlet flow with the preheated
fuel to ensure enough steam-to-carbon-ratio (STCR). Then the mixed fuel enters the reformer heat
exchanger (RHE) and is converted into hydrogen-rich fuel. The reformed and preheated fuel enters the
SOFC anode channel. At the same time, the pressurized air enters the heat exchanger (HE) from

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compressor and blower. The recirculated cathode exhaust is used to further improve the air
temperature. Then the mixed air is fed into the SOFC cathode channel. The remained fuel in anode
exhaust and air in cathode exhaust enters the after-burner to release the energy completely. The high
temperature exhaust enters the RHE to preheat the fuel. Finally, the turbine exhaust enters the HEs to
preheat the air and fuel.
Because of its high reliability and low maintenance-cost, a single stage ejector is used to perform
the anode and cathode recirculation loops. For the cathode recirculation loop, the compressor outlet air
is the primary fluid. There is a significant pressure drop between compressor outlet air and SOFC inlet
air if only an ejector is added into the cathode recirculation loop. The decrease of the SOFC inlet
temperature causes the reduction of the SOFC efficiency [24, 25]. Therefore, a blower is introduced
after the compressor to overcome the pressure drop of cathode ejector. Although this solution requires
high electric consumption for compression, it allows use of the original compressor of blower-based
recirculation loop, reducing the huge costs in designing a new compressor for ejector-based
recirculation loop.

2.2 Thermodynamic models
The SOFC-GT hybrid system model is built based on the modular modeling method. The model
of each component is established based on the Easy5 (Engineering Analysis System) platform, which
is developed by Boeing company. It can accurately simulate the performance of thermal hydraulics,
fuel cell, and electrical systems. The main component models are described as follows.
The anode and cathode recirculation loops are performed based on the single stage ejector whose
mixing chamber area is constant. The secondary fluid with low pressure is entrained into mixing
chamber by the primary fluid with high pressure. The fluids are mixed completely in the mixing
chamber and recovery the kinetic energy in pressure energy in the diffusor. The schematic of an
ejector is shown in Fig. 2.

Nozzle
Nozzle outlet (3)
Diffusor inlet (6)
throat (2) Mixing chamber
inlet (5) Diffusor outlet (7)
Primary fluid
inlet (1)

Second fluid
inlet (4)

Fig. 2 The schematic of an ejector

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A one-dimensional ejector model has been established in previous work [26] to simulate the
thermodynamic performance in each of the seven sections shown in Fig. 2. The model is based on the
mass and energy balance equation at nozzle throat (2), nozzle outlet (3), mixing chamber inlet (5),
diffusor inlet (6) and diffusor outlet (7). Besides, the momentum balance equation is considered at the
mixing chamber inlet (5). The losses in the ejector model are mainly considered as pressure loss
coefficients in mixing chamber and diffusor.
The detail mass, energy and momentum balance equations of each section and the ejector model
validation can be seen in reference [26]. In the design model, the inlet parameters of primary and
secondary fluids, the secondary velocity at mixing chamber inlet, and the diffusor outlet velocity are
specified. The ejector geometry parameters (including areas of nozzle throat, nozzle outlet, mixing
chamber inlet and diffusor outlet) are determined. In the off-design model, the geometry parameters
are specified. The recirculation ratio and ejector outlet fluid parameters are determined.
A one-dimensional SOFC dynamic model based on finite volume methodology is developed for a
planar co-flow direct internal reforming SOFC. The model of each finite volume consists of species
balance equation, energy balance equation, momentum balance equation, and electrochemical
equations. Four temperature layers including fuel channel, air channel, positive-
electrode/electrolyte/negative electrode (PEN) structure, and interconnector are established to simulate
the SOFC temperature. The detail SOFC model and its benchmarking can be seen in our previous
work [31].
Finally, the radial turbomachinery (compressor and turbine) models based on characteristic map,
blower model, after-burner model, and one-dimensional HE and RHE models were also studied in our
previous work [31].

3. Part-load Operating Strategy Design

3.1 Control objectives
In order to make sure that the SOFC-GT hybrid system operates in a safe and suitable condition,
several constraints should be satisfied during load variation.
(1) Fuel cell operating temperature. The SOFC temperature distribution is an important indicator of the
operation safety and efficiency. Increasing the SOFC operating temperature can maintain the SOFC
efficiency at a part-load operating condition. However, the SOFC operating temperature must be lower than
the maximum material tolerable temperature [32, 33]. Considering the influence of fuel cell temperature on
SOFC, the SOFC operating temperature is limited to the range of 1023-1223 K [34, 35]. In addition, the
SOFC temperature distribution should be as uniform as possible to avoid huge thermal stress. Thus, the
maximum temperature gradient inside the cell should be less than 10 K/cm [36].

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(2) Carbon deposition problem. Natural gas needs to be reformed to hydrogen-rich fuel in RHE and
SOFC anode channel. The carbon deposition may occur during the reform reaction process. The STCR
should be high enough to avoid carbon deposition. Commonly, STCR needs to be more than 2.0 [37].
N H 2O
STCR  (3)
N CO  N CH 4

(3) Fuel utilization. FU is a critical parameter at a part-load operating condition. It is necessary to
maintain it within a reasonable range. If the FU is too high, the electrochemical reaction is too strong,
leading to a high SOFC temperature gradient. If the FU is too low, the fuel cell is not able to satisfy the
requested power and a size and cost increase is necessary. In addition, more remained fuel enters the after-
burner. Turbine inlet temperature (TIT) would increase, causing turbine blade over temperature and
compressor surge problems [38]. According to the reference [39], the reasonable value of FU is about 0.75.
FU can be calculated by the following equation.
IWL
FU  (4)
in
2 F (4 xCH 4
 xHin2  xCO
in
)ninf

(4) Compressor surge. Compressor surge has a great harm to compressor. It will seriously destroy the
system stability and deteriorate the system performance. At the same time, it will cause strong mechanical
vibration, causing dangerous conditions such as blade rupture. The compressor surge margin (Equation 5)
must be more than 15% [40].
SM   ( s / Gs ) ( / G )  1  100% (5)

(5) Other constraints. Besides, several other parameters need to be kept and monitored to ensure the
safely and efficiently operating. TIT directly affects the performance of a gas turbine. Gas turbine
efficiency increases with the increase of TIT. However, TIT must be lower than the maximum material
tolerable temperature of turbine blade. Therefore, TIT should be limited to the range of 1000-1200 K [41].
The after-burner should be lower than 1500 K. Rotation speed should be within the safe range of 35000-
75000 r/min. The differential pressure between anode channel and cathode channel should be lower
than 3000 Pa [10].
As a whole, the constraint conditions are shown in Table 1.

Table 1 Hybrid system constraint conditions
Parameters Value
STCR >2.0
Fuel cell working temperature 1023-1223 K
Fuel cell temperature gradient <10 K/cm
Anode-cathode differential pressure <3000 Pa
Afterburner operating temperature <1500 K
Compressor surge margin >15%
TIT 1023-1223 K
Rotation speed 35000-75000 r/min

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3.2 Operating strategy design
In order to implement the part-load operation condition, the adjusting parameters of the SOFC-GT
hybrid system with anode and cathode ejectors are the fuel flow rates of SOFC and after-burner,
rotation speed, and other parameters. The simplest strategy to implement part-load operation condition
is to adjust the fuel flow rate of SOFC. However, the SOFC operating temperature will reduce with
the drop of the fuel flow rate, leading to the reduction of the system efficiency and operating range.
The air flow rate is changed by adjusting the rotation speed to maintain the SOFC cathode inlet
temperature and the system efficiency at a part-load condition. Moreover, it is necessary to focus on
safety at a part-load condition, particularly the temperature differences between anode channel and
cathode channel. In order to guarantee the temperature differences between anode channel and cathode
channel operating in a reasonable range, the assistant fuel flow rate delivery to after-burner is adjusted
to maintain the anode inlet temperature. When the hybrid system operates at a part-load condition, TIT
will deviate from the design point which causes low operating efficiency, and even damage to the
turbine. Therefore, TIT is maintained by introducing a compressor/turbine bypass valve, and the
bypass flow rate is adjusted at a part-load condition.
As a whole, four different operation strategies are proposed. In the four explored cases, the FU is
maintained by adjusting the fuel cell operating voltage (Usofc). FU is not a measurable parameter. An
alternative and obtainable method is using current to fuel flow ratio (CTFR) parameter to describe FU.
Therefore, the CTFR is kept constant under all operating strategies.
Case 1: adjusting the primary fuel flow (mp,fuel) of SOFC to implement the required system power
(Psys) under the part-load operating condition.
Case 2: adjusting the fuel flow of SOFC, and adjusting the rotation speed (n) to maintain the
cathode inlet temperature (Tca).
Case 3: adjusting the fuel flow rate of SOFC, the rotation speed, and adjusting the assistant fuel
flow rate (ma,fuel)to maintain the anode inlet temperature (Tan) in order to guarantee the temperature
differences between anode channel and cathode channel.
Case 4: adjusting the fuel flow rate of SOFC, the rotation speed, assistant fuel flow rate, and using
the compressor/turbine bypass valve to adjust the bypass air flow rate (mby) to maintain TIT (TTIT).
The manipulated and affected variables of the four explored cases are summarized in Table 2.

Table 2 Manipulated and affected variables of the four cases
Manipulated–Affected variables
Case
Usofc–CTFR(FU) mf–Psys n–Tca ma,fuel–Tan mby–TTIT
1 √ √   
2 √ √ √  
3 √ √ √ √ 
4 √ √ √ √ √

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4. Result and discussion

4.1 Baseline of hybrid system
The designed part-load operating strategies were implemented in a 328 kW hybrid system with
anode and cathode recirculation ejectors. The capabilities of the four part-load operating strategies
were also simulated based on the SOFC-GT hybrid system model. The hybrid system design point
parameters are shown in Table 3. The molar fractions of fuel are 0.975 CH4 and 0.025 H2O.

Table 3 Design point performance of the hybrid system
SOFC
Operating voltage 0.596 V
SOFC current density 1617.9 A/m2
Fuel utilization 0.75
Anode entrainment ratio 7.39
Cathode entrainment ratio 3.11
Anode mass flow rate 0.0805 kg/s
Cathode mass flow rate 1.1849 kg/s
Anode inlet temperature 1073 K
Cathode inlet temperature 1073 K
SOFC power 270 kW
SOFC efficiency 0.3911
Gas Turbine
Air inlet temperature 288 K
Air inlet pressure 1.013 bar
Air inlet mass flow rate 0.3807 kg/s
Compressor compression ratio 3.787
Turbine expansion ratio 3.652
Turbine inlet temperature 1173 K
Rotation speed 70,000 r/min
GT power 58 kW
Fuel
Fuel inlet temperature 288 K
Fuel inlet pressure 1.013 bar
Fuel inlet mass flow rate 0.0109 kg/s

The geometry parameters of the anode and cathode ejectors have been designed in our previous
work [26]. In addition, the thermodynamic parameters (including temperature, pressure, mass flow
rate, and composition) of each node shown in Fig. 1 are summarized in Table 4.

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Table 4 Parameters of each node at the design condition
node T p m Composition (molar fraction)/%
K bar kg/s CH4 H2 CO CO2 H2O O2 N2
1 288.0 14.031 0.0109 97.5 0 0 0 2.5 0 0
2 553.3 14.030 0.0109 97.5 0 0 0 2.5 0 0
3 1005.7 3.7944 0.0914 16.52 7.73 4.49 22.96 48.30 0 0
4 1073.0 3.7943 0.0914 10.96 20.95 6.98 22.36 38.75 0 0
5 1134.1 3.7940 0.1290 0 9.31 5.40 27.65 57.64 0 0
6 1134.1 3.7940 0.0485 0 9.31 5.40 27.65 57.64 0 0
7 1134.1 3.7940 0.0805 0 9.31 5.40 27.65 57.64 0 0
8 288.0 1.0130 0.3807 0 0 0 0 0 21.00 79.00
9 455.5 3.8364 0.3807 0 0 0 0 0 21.00 79.00
10 552.3 6.7520 0.3807 0 0 0 0 0 21.00 79.00
11 893.6 6.7488 0.3807 0 0 0 0 0 21.00 79.00
12 1130.0 3.7940 1.1849 0 0 0 0 0 13.29 86.71
13 1073.0 3.7980 1.5656 0 0 0 0 0 15.15 84.85
14 1130.0 3.7940 1.5280 0 0 0 0 0 13.29 86.71
15 1130.0 3.7940 0.3431 0 0 0 0 0 12.72 87.28
16 1275.8 3.7561 0.3916 0 0 0 4.76 9.64 10.46 75.14
17 1173.0 3.7559 0.3916 0 0 0 4.76 9.64 10.46 75.14
18 920.6 1.0284 0.3916 0 0 0 4.76 9.64 10.46 75.14
19 598.4 1.0253 0.3916 0 0 0 4.76 9.64 10.46 75.14
20 578.3 1.0130 0.3916 0 0 0 4.76 9.64 10.46 75.14

4.2 Effect of different operating strategies
The part-load operating strategy has a great effect on the hybrid system operating characteristic. In
order to demonstrate the part-load characteristics of the designed operating strategies, the performance
parameters were analyzed when the system output power ranged from 50-100% under the constant
ambient conditions (288 K and 1.013 bar).
It is noted that the effect of different operating strategies is analyzed with the assumption of
constant ejector efficiencies. In fact, ejector efficiencies would affect the system performance [42-45],
and the ejector efficiencies are affected by the ejector geometries and operating condition [46-50].
However, this work mainly focuses the SOFC-GT system performances under different part-load
operating strategies. Especially in case 2, 3, and 4, the influence of the ejector efficiency is weakened
because the SOFC temperature is controlled under the part-load operating strategies. Thus, the ejector
component efficiencies are simplified as constant for the analysis of part-load operating strategies.
The part-load characteristics of the primary fuel flow rate delivery to SOFC, the assistant fuel
flow rate delivery to after-burner under different operating strategies are shown in Fig. 3. Because the
SOFC contributes most to the output power of the hybrid system, the fuel flow delivery to SOFC
decreases with the drop of system load under all operating strategies. The fuel flow rate of case 1 is
higher than other strategies at a part-load condition because of the reduction of the SOFC operating
temperature and TIT. The efficiency decreases with the reductions of the SOFC operating temperature
and TIT at a part-load condition in case 1. The cathode inlet temperature is kept at 1073 K in case 2,

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and both anode inlet temperature and cathode inlet temperature are kept at 1073 K in case 3 and 4. The
primary fuel low rate of case 2 is higher than case 3 and 4 due to the reduction of anode inlet
temperature. In case 3 and 4, the heat generated from the electrochemical reaction in the SOFC
decreases at a part-load condition, and more assistant fuel flow rate is required to maintain the anode
inlet temperature. The trends of case 3 and 4 are almost identical in the primary fuel flow rate and
assistant fuel flow rate at a part-load condition.

Fig. 3 Fuel flow rate

The part-load characteristics of the SOFC temperature under different operating strategies are
shown in Figs. 4-6. There is no anode inlet temperature control strategy in cases 1 and 2, the anode
inlet temperature (Fig. 4(a)) decreases with the reduction of the system power, and the reduction of
temperature in case 2 is much faster than case 1. The anode inlet temperature drops to the lower limit
at about 70% system output power in case 2, while it is at about 52% output power in case 1. In case 3
and 4, the anode inlet temperature is kept at 1073 K by adjusting the assistant fuel flow rate.
The cathode inlet temperature is not maintained in case 1. The cathode inlet temperature (Fig.
4(b)) decreases with the reduction of primary fuel flow rate at a part-load condition. The cathode inlet
temperature drops to the lower limit at about 62% system output power. Conversely, the cathode inlet
temperature is maintained at 1073 K by adjusting the rotation speed in case 2, 3, and 4. As the Fig. 4
shows, the temperature differences between anode inlet and cathode inlet increase with the drop of
system load in case 1 and 2. When the system output power is 50%, the temperature differences in
case 1 and 2 are 15 K and 92.8 K, respectively. Therefore, maintaining anode inlet temperature and
output temperature are both necessary to avoid excessive temperature difference.
The maximum temperature gradient of anode channel (Fig. 4(a)) in case 1 is almost kept at 9
K/min. The anode temperature gradient in case 2 sharply increases after initial decrease when the
system load decreases. The minimum temperature gradient appears at about 80% system load, and it
will be more than the upper limit at 68% system load. In case 3 and 4, the maximum temperature

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gradient of anode channel decreases with the drop of system load. The trends of case 3 and 4 are
almost identical.
The maximum temperature gradient of cathode channel (Fig. 4(b)) in case 1 decreases with the
drop of system load. In case 2, the cathode temperature gradient slowly increases with the drop of
system load, but it is always within an acceptable range. In case 3 and 4, the maximum temperature
gradient of cathode channel still decreases with the drop of system load. The trends of case 3 and 4 are
almost identical.

(a) Anode channel

(b) Cathode channel
Fig.4 Inlet temperature and maximum temperature gradient of anode and cathode channel

The part-load performances of INTC inlet temperature and maximum INTC temperature gradient
(Fig. 5(a)) are almost identical with the temperature performances of PEN (Fig. 5(b)). They are mainly
influenced by the anode channel temperature. The trends of INTC and PEN under different operating
strategies are almost identical with anode channel.

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(a) INTC

(b) PEN
Fig.5 Inlet temperature and maximum temperature gradient of INTC and PEN

The characteristics of the anode outlet temperature and cathode outlet temperature under different
operating strategies are shown in Fig. 6. The trends are almost identical in the anode and cathode
outlet temperature at a part-load condition. The anode outlet temperature and cathode outlet
temperature decrease due to the reduction of heat generation from electrochemical reactions at a part-
load condition. The outlet temperature of the anode channel is always a little higher than the cathode
channel because the heat from the electrochemical reactions is generated in the anode channel. In case
1, the decline of the SOFC outlet temperature is biggest. The decline in case 2 is smallest. The
declines in case 1 and 2 are almost identical.
The characteristics of the internal reforming ratio and STCR under different operating strategies
are shown in Fig. 7. In case 1, 3, and 4, the STCR increases from 2.3 to 2.7 when the system load
decreases from 100% to 50%. The STCR in case 1 is almost constant with the drop of system load.
Whatever the STCR is always higher than 2.0 with an acceptable range at a part-load condition, which
means that all the four operating strategies can effectively avoid carbon deposition.

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Fig.6 Outlet temperature of SOFC

The internal reforming ratio of SOFC in case 2, 3, and 4 decreases with the drop of system load.
The internal reforming ratio in case 2 is higher than case 3 and 4 at a part-load condition. It is because
the higher after-burner temperature leads to more methane reformed in the RHE in case 3 and 4. The
internal reforming ratio in case 1 slowly increases with the drop of system load.

Fig.7 STCR and internal reforming ratio

The characteristics of anode and cathode recirculated flow rate under different operating strategies
are shown in Fig. 8. The recirculated flow rate of ejector is mainly determined by the primary fluid
flow rate. The cathode recirculated flow rate is much higher than anode recirculated flow rate. The
trends of anode recirculated flow rate are almost identical with the primary fuel flow rate, which
decreases with the drop of system load. The trends of cathode recirculated flow rate are almost
identical with compressor air flow rate.
The characteristics of differential pressure between anode channel and cathode channel under
different operating strategies are shown in Fig. 9. When the system load decreases from 100% to 50%,
the differential pressure is less than 395 Pa, which is always within an acceptable range (much less
than 3000 Pa) under all four operating strategies. The characteristics of the SOFC cathode inlet

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pressure under different operating strategies are also present in Fig. 8. The SOFC cathode inlet
pressure is mainly determined by the compression ratio (Fig. 13(a)) of compressor. The trends of
cathode inlet pressure are almost identical with compression ratio.

Fig.8 Recirculated flow rate of anode and cathode

Fig.9 Differential pressure and cathode inlet pressure

The characteristics of FU, operating voltage, and average current density under different operating
strategies are shown in Figs. 10 and 11. In case 2, the FU is almost kept at 0.75 at a part-load
condition. In case 1, 3 and 4, the FU slowly decreases with the drop of system load, and the decline of
case 3 is biggest. However, the FU is always more than 0.71 under the four operating strategies, which
is within a reasonable range. Therefore, the FU can be maintained at a stable and feasible level by
keeping the current to fuel flow ratio constant.
The average current density (Fig. 11) decreases when the primary fuel flow rate decreases with
the drop of the system load to maintain the CTFR. According to Ohm’s law, the average current
density varies with the change of the operating voltage. The average current density can be controlled
by adjusting the operating voltage. In case 1, the reduction of SOFC voltage loss due to drop of

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current cannot compensate the sharp increase of SOFC voltage loss due to the drop of SOFC operating
temperature. Therefore, the operating voltage decreases with the drop of system load in case 1.
Inversely, the operating voltage increases with the drop of system load due to the effect of cathode
inlet temperature in case 2, 3, and 4. The operating voltage in case 2 is lower than case 3 and 4
because the anode inlet temperature is not kept in case 2.

Fig.10 Fuel utilization of SOFC

Fig.11 Current density and operating voltage of SOFC

The characteristics of after-burner temperature, TIT and bypass flow rate under different operating
strategies are shown in Fig. 12. The after-burner temperature decreases in case 1 and 2 because of the
effect of assistant fuel flow rate. The after-burner temperature in case 1 is lower than case 2 because
the cathode channel temperature is kept at 1073 K. In case 3 and 4, the after-burner temperature
increases with the drop of system load because the assistant fuel flow rate is delivered to after-burner
for burning.
TIT is one of the most important parameters of a gas turbine. The trends of TIT in case 1, 2 and 3
are the same as the after-burner chamber temperature, and the TIT in case 3 will be more than the

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upper limit at about 53% system load. Therefore, it is necessary to keep the TIT within a feasible
range. In case 4, the TIT is kept at 1173K by adjusting the bypass flow rate.

Fig.12 Temperature of after-burner, TIT and bypass flow rate

(a) Compression ratio and rotation speed (b) Flow rate and surge margin
Fig.13 Compression ratio, rotation speed, flow rate, surge margin of compressor

To demonstrate the performance of the compressor at a part-load condition, the characteristics of
compression ratio, rotation speed, compressor mass flow rate, and surge margin under different
operating strategies are shown in Fig. 13. In case 1, the rotation speed is constant. Thus, the
compressor operates nearby the design point. The surge margin is almost kept at 22%. When the
system load decreases, the compression ratio has a little decrease due to the reduction of fuel flow
rate, resulting in the increase of compressor flow rate. In case 2, 3, and 4, the compressor mass flow
rate and compression ratio trends are mainly dominated by the variation of the rotation speed. The
compressor flow rate decreases by adjusting the rotation speed with the drop of system load in order to
keep the cathode inlet temperature constant. The declines of rotation speed and compressor flow rate
are biggest due to the effect of anode inlet temperature in case 2, and the compressor moves away
from the compressor margin line with the drop of system power. The declines rotation speed and
compressor flow rate are smallest in case 3, and the compressor moves close to the surge line due to
the effect of TIT. In case 4, the compressor moves away from the compressor margin line after
keeping the TIT by adjusting the bypass flow rate.

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(a) SOFC and GT output power (b) Output ratio of SOFC and the system
Fig.14 Output power of SOFC and gas turbine

The output power of the SOFC, gas turbine, and the SOFC output power ratio are shown in Fig.
14. In the SOFC-GT hybrid system, the SOFC output power contributes most to hybrid system output
power, which is more than 72%. The output power of SOFC and gas turbine are shown in Fig. 14(a).
The output powers of SOFC and gas turbine decrease with the reduction of system load under all the
operating strategies. The SOFC output power is mainly determined by the average current density and
operating voltage and the output power of gas turbine is mainly determined by the air flow rate and
TIT. In case 1, the average current density and operating voltage both decrease with the reduction of
system load. Therefore, the SOFC output power decreases most rapidly, and the gas turbine output
power decreases most slowly. In case 2, the air flow decreases most rapidly, and the turbine inlet
temperature has a large drop, resulting in the fastest reduction of the gas turbine output power.
Inversely, the SOFC output power drops most slowly. In case 3 and 4, the trends of output powers of
SOFC and gas turbine are almost identical. The gas turbine output power in case 3 is a little higher
than case 4 due to the effect of TIT. The SOFC output power ratio under different operating strategies
is shown in Fig. 14(b). In case 2, the SOFC output ratio increases with the reduction of system load. In
case 1, 3, and 4, the SOFC output ratio decreases with the reduction of system load.
The efficiency of SOFC and the SOFC-GT hybrid system are shown in Fig. 15. In case 1, the
SOFC efficiency decreases with the reduction of system load. It is because the SOFC operating
temperature, especially the cathode temperature, decreases with the reduction of system load. In case
2, 3, and 4, the efficiency of the SOFC increases with the reduction of system load due to maintaining
the SOFC operating temperature at a part-load condition. The SOFC efficiency of case 2 is a little
lower than case 3 and 4 due to the effect of anode inlet temperature. Due to SOFC producing most
power, the efficiency performance of hybrid system is almost the same as the SOFC. As the Fig. 15(b)
shown, the efficiency of the novel SOFC-GT hybrid system is very high. In case 1, the efficiency of
the entire SOFC-GT hybrid system is still more than 47.7% at 50% system load. In case 2, 3, and 4,
the system efficiency always operates in a high efficiency zone (more than 61%). However, in case 2,
when the load drops to around 70%, the anode inlet temperature drops to the lower limit of 1023 K.

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When the load is nearby 68%, the maximum temperature gradient of the anode channel reaches the
upper limit of 10 K/cm. and there is a large temperature differences between the anode channel and
the cathode channel. The temperature differences between anode channel and cathode channel reaches
92.8K at 50% system load. Excessive temperature gradient and temperature differences will cause
irreversible damage to SOFC. In case 3, TIT will exceed its upper limit at 53% system load.

(a) SOFC efficiency (b) SOFC-GT system efficiency

Fig.15 Efficiency of SOFC and SOFC-GT hybrid system

Above all, case 1, 2, and 3 will bring some operation problems to the SOFC-GT hybrid system at
a part-load condition. The lowest part-load points of case 1, 2, and 3 are 62%, 70%, and 53%
respectively. Nevertheless, the hybrid system operates safely and efficiently in case 4 at a part-load
condition. Therefore, case 4 is the best operating strategy for the designed SOFC-GT hybrid system,
which not only guarantees the safety but also ensures the high efficiency at a part-load condition.

5. Conclusions

In this paper, four different operating strategies were designed for a novel SOFC-GT system with
anode and cathode ejectors. The part-load characteristics of all the operating strategies were analyzed
when the system load ranges from 50% to 100%. The conclusions are as follows:
(1) The simplest strategy to implement part-load operation is to adjust the fuel flow rate of SOFC.
However, this operating strategy causes the reduction of system efficiency at a part-load condition.
The system efficiency decreases from 61.8% to 47.7% when the system load ranges from 50% to
100%.
(2) Keeping the cathode channel temperature can effectively maintain the system efficiency. In
case 2, 3, and 4, the system efficiency is always more than 61% at a part-part load condition.
(3) Several parameters, such as FU, STCR, SOFC temperature, TIT, should be kept at a feasible
value to guarantee safely operating. A concept of monitoring the temperature difference between

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anode and cathode channel is proposed in case 4. It can effectively avoid huge fuel cell temperature
differences and compressor surge.
(4) Case 4 is the best operating strategy for the designed SOFC-GT hybrid system with anode and
cathode ejectors. The hybrid system operates efficiently and safely under this operating strategy at a
part-load condition.

Acknowledgment

This work was supported by National Fundenmental Research Project (Grant
No.JCKY2017208A001) and Program of Science and Technology Committee of Shanghai Municipal
(Grant No.09DZ1200702)

Nomenclature

SOFC solid oxide fuel cell
CTFR current to fuel flow ratio
GT gas turbine
F Faradays constant
FU fuel utilization
G Reduced flow rate
HE heat exchange
I average current density
INTC interconnector
L fuel cell length
m mass flow rate
n rotation speed
N molar flow rate
NETL National Energy Technology Laboratory
p pressure
P power
PEN positive-electrode/electrolyte/negative electrode
PID proportion–integration–differentiation
RHE reform heat exchange
SM surge margin
SOFC-GT solid oxide fuel cell-gas turbine
STCR steam to carbon ratio

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T temperature
TIT turbine inlet temperature
U voltage
W fuel cell width
x molar fraction
𝜋 compression ratio

Subscripts
a assistant flow
an anode
by bypass air flow
ca cathode
f fuel
p primary flow
s surgine line

Superscripts
in inlet

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Highlights
 A novel SOFC-GT hybrid system with anode and cathode ejectors is designed.
 Four different part-load operating strategies are carried out.
 A concept of monitoring the temperature difference between anode and cathode
channel is proposed
 Both anode and cathode inlet temperature control strategies are necessary.
 Case 4 maintaining both anode and cathode temperatures and TIT is an effective
and appropriate operating strategy.