Interest has increased over the potential of solid oxide fuel cells. An article within the last year was posted on the bioenergy list about combining the old technology of gasification with new solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology. Good, Old Gasification Meets High-Tech Fuel Cells
According to this article, SOFCs are somewhat promising because they operate at high efficiency at small scales and are do not have the demands for gas quality like other fuel cell technologies.
SOFCs typically consist of a solid oxide (ie:ceramic) with an electrolyte that creates electricity straight from a fuel (in this case wood gas).
In this thesis, they use an updraft gasifier and then state in the abstract that "Experiments with short stacks showed that tars are to some extent a fuel for SOFCs". However it would seen that there would be an upper limit of the mol. weight of the tars that are ok for SOFCs. This cut-off would seem to be at which the tar becomes large enough so that its marco physical burden is a greater percentage than its chemical potential as a fuel.
They also look at the degradation of the cell over time to identify contamination and stress mechanisms by referring to SEM pictures of the anode.
There has been increased interest in this technology, I believe we have two customers in our current que who are intending to use the GEK for fuel cell technology.
Is anyone else currently doing research in this arena?