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Computational Fluid Dynamics Model of a Planar Solid-Oxide Electrolysis Cell for Hydrogen Production from Nuclear Energy

Grant L. Hawkes, James E. O'Brien, Carl M. Stoots, J. Stephen Herring, Mehrdad Shahnam

Nuclear Technology / Volume 158 / Number 2 / May 2007 / Pages 132-144

Technical Paper / Nuclear Reactor Thermal Hydraulics /

A three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model has been created to model high-temperature steam electrolysis in a planar solid-oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC). The model represents a single cell as it would exist in an electrolysis stack. Details of the model geometry are specific to a stack tested at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). Mass, momentum, energy, and species conservation and transport are provided via the core features of the commercial CFD code FLUENT. A solid-oxide fuel cell (SOFC) model adds the electrochemical reactions and loss mechanisms and computation of the electric field throughout the cell. The FLUENT SOFC user-defined subroutine was modified to allow for operation in the SOEC mode. Model results provide detailed profiles of temperature, Nernst potential, operating potential, anode-side gas composition, cathode-side gas composition, current density, and hydrogen production in a range of stack operating conditions. Mean model results are shown to compare favorably with experimental results obtained from an actual ten-cell stack tested at INL.

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