Journal of Thermal Science

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 203–212 | Cite as

Thermal Modeling and Management of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells Operating with Internally Reformed Methane

  • Yiyang Wu
  • Yixiang Shi
  • Ningsheng Cai
  • Meng Ni


A detailed three-dimensional mechanistic model of a large-scale solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) unit running on partially pre-reformed methane is developed. The model considers the coupling effects of chemical and electrochemical reactions, mass transport, momentum and heat transfer in the SOFC unit. After model validation, parametric simulations are conducted to investigate how the methane pre-reforming ratio affects the transport and electrochemistry of the SOFC unit. It is found that the methane steam reforming reaction has a “smoothing effect”, which can achieve more uniform distributions of gas compositions, current density and temperature among the cell plane. In the case of 1500 W/m2 power density output, adding 20% methane absorbs 50% of internal heat production inside the cell, reduces the maximum temperature difference inside the cell from 70 K to 22 K and reduces the cathode air supply by 75%, compared to the condition of completely pre-reforming of methane. Under specific operating conditions, the pre-reforming ratio of methane has an optimal range for obtaining a good temperature distribution and good cell performance.


Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Methane Steam Reforming Modelling Smoothing Effect Pre-reforming Percentage 


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Supports from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51776108, 51476092) and Tsinghua University 221Youth Foundation Program for Fundamental Scientific Research are highly appreciated. This research is also supported by a grant from Environmental Conservation Fund of Hong Kong SAR (ECF 54/2015).


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Engineering Thermophysics, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yiyang Wu
    • 1
  • Yixiang Shi
    • 1
  • Ningsheng Cai
    • 1
  • Meng Ni
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory for Thermal Science and Power Engineering of Ministry of EducationTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Building Energy Research Group, Department of Building and Real EstateThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHung Hom, Kowloon, Hong KongChina

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