Preliminary design of a MW-class demo system for CO2capture with MCFC in a university campus cogeneration plant

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One of the most promising, short-term options for efficiently capturing CO2from combustion exhaust gases - potentially from any combustion process source - is based on the operating principle of Molten Carbonate Fuel Cells (MCFC): their electrochemical reactions promote the transport of both CO2and O2molecules from the cathode side (which can be fed with combustion effluents) to the CO2-rich atmosphere of the anode side (fed with internally reformed natural gas), by means of a CO32--ion conducting electrolyte. In the present work, the preliminary design of a 1 MWelMCFC demo plant operating downstream a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) installed at the Politecnico di Milano campus is investigated, with the aim of promoting a valid solution for high efficiency, de-carbonised heat and electricity production. The study envisages two purification strategies for the CO2-rich stream at the MCFC anode outlet: i) the CO2is separated and compressed in a cryogenic unit and the unconverted fuel is either recycled at the anode inlet or burned and sent to the MCFC cathode inlet ii) the anode exhausts are burned in a catalytic oxy-combustor, increasing both the thermal energy available in the cogeneration unit and the CO2concentration in the stream sent to the storage site. Subsequently to a thermodynamic analysis carried out with a 0D model calibrated upon experimental data available for a commercial MCFC unit, the main components are designed by taking into account all the operating constraints of the machines and the CO2capture limitations associated to the size of the MCFC modules currently available on the market. Moreover, an economic analysis is performed in order to assess the feasibility of such an installation within the university campus cogeneration grid. As a main finding, the use of MCFCs to capture CO2at a distributed generation scale allows reaching interesting energy and environmental performances, highlighted by promising values of the Specific Primary Energy Consumption for CO2Avoided (SPECCA=0.9-1.9 MJ/kgCO2) and Carbon Capture Ratios (CCR=68-84%). Within a mid-term perspective for MCFC specific cost, the economic analyses reveal acceptable values for the cost of electricity and the cost of CO2avoided, respectively close to 130 €/MWheland 100 €/tCO2.




Mastropasqua, L., Spinelli, M., Paganoni, A., & Campanari, S. (2017). Preliminary design of a MW-class demo system for CO2capture with MCFC in a university campus cogeneration plant. In Energy Procedia (Vol. 126, pp. 453–460). Elsevier Ltd.

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