University of Cambridge > > Darwin College Science Seminars > Solid oxide fuel cell's and the electricity generation of the present

Solid oxide fuel cell's and the electricity generation of the present

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Energy demand has largely increased over the last century. The current major energy source has been fossil fuel in the form of coal, petroleum and gas. Pollution, carbon emission, becoming scarce and expensive are the main reasons why we don’t want to relay on fossil fuel anymore. However the transition to non-fossil fuel energy usage will be gradual and there are many benefits in storing energy in chemical form as a fuel. Due to its versatile use and efficiency at operation fuel is mostly converted into electricity. Conversion efficiency of the chemical energy to electricity is one of the major points effecting energy loss and overall efficiency of our energy consumption. Here I will focus on the conversion process from chemical energy to electricity specifically by electrochemical devices such as fuel cells. Traditionally, fuel combustion generates heat and mechanical force with limited efficiency which is then converted into electricity by very efficient electromagnetic devices such as dynamos and alternators, resulting in overall a low efficiency electricity generation. Fuel cells and in particular Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) offer the potential for the environmentally friendly and efficient source of electricity generation from variety of fuels. Their key feature is the direct conversion of the chemical energy into electricity without the fundamental efficiency limit of the heat engines of ~60 % (the Carnot cycle). With this talk I hope to create a nice discussion platform for the energy plan for the future of our planet.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Science Seminars series.

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