Study of a biomass integrated gasifier-molten carbonate fuel cell power system

Luca De Lorenzo, Andrea Casalegno, Angelo Moreno

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


To reduce both primary energy consumption and environmental impact the current power production system, based primarily on fossil fuels, needs to be firstly integrated and subsequently replaced by new technologies and by renewable energies. Among renewable energies, that come all in different ways from solar radiation and that are all characterized by a discontinuous and often random availability, only biomass is similar to fossil fuels, in the sense that it represents a way of storage of solar energy. Fuel cells are a technology with high conversion efficiency and. have significant advantages in terms of environmental impact, availability and possibility of decentralized power production. The first goal of the study is to determine and design a power plant capable of joining in a small scale hybrid design molten carbonate fuel cell technology and biomass gasification. To achieve this we conduct a detailed analysis of the main characteristics and energetic performance of two optimized power systems. Both these systems arc developed starting off from a commercial product, licensed by ANSALDO Fuel Cells S.p.a. and originally designed for a natural gas feedstock; i) the first system has just the minimal modifications necessary to change the fuel used, in order to keep as much as possible the original structure and minimize both the technology innovations and cost requirements; ii) in the second we allow more innovative engineering and introduce several improvements to achieve higher efficiencies and to eliminate the secondary natural gas feed, still present in the first system. The first system presents: design of a clean-up and humidifying line, removal of reforming reactor, re-design of pressure system and of heat exchanges. The final configuration has a power output of 670 k W electrical and 800 k W thermal, efficiencies of 37% and 41%, electrical and exergctic respectively. These values concern only the power plant and do not consider both the gasification process that has a cold gas efficiency of 78%, and the inverter, with 96%. The second system presents: a new vessel exhaust gas system, re-circulation of the anode exhaust flow and an external reactor for fuel process (water gas shift reaction and reforming). These allow the new system to gain approximately 17 points of efficiency, ending up with a 54% and 590 kW electrical performance. In this configuration no thermal output is expected. A final economic evaluation is conducted in order to assess the use of such plants in rural-forestry management environments. In conclusion the: emerging technology of high temperature fuel cells can be coupled with biomass gasification increasing the potential use of this renewable energy source in the power sector. The synergies between high efficiencies at small scale power plants and the requirements of biomass collection make this solution particularly attractive.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Event1st European Fuel Cell Technology and Applications Conference 2005, EFC2005 - , Italy
Duration: 1 Jan 2005 → …


Conference1st European Fuel Cell Technology and Applications Conference 2005, EFC2005
Period1/1/05 → …


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)

Cite this

De Lorenzo, L., Casalegno, A., & Moreno, A. (2005). Study of a biomass integrated gasifier-molten carbonate fuel cell power system. Paper presented at 1st European Fuel Cell Technology and Applications Conference 2005, EFC2005, Italy.