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Assessment of a novel solid oxide fuel cell tri-generation system for building applications

Elmer, Theo; Worall, Mark; Wu, Shenyi; Riffat, Saffa


Theo Elmer

Senior Research Fellow

Shenyi Wu

Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems


The paper provides a performance analysis assessment of a novel solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) liquid desiccant tri-generation system for building applications. The work presented serves to build upon the current literature related to experimental evaluations of SOFC tri-generation systems, particularly in domestic built environment applications. The proposed SOFC liquid desiccant tri-generation system will be the first-of-its-kind. No research activity is reported on the integration of SOFC, or any fuel cell, with liquid desiccant air conditioning in a tri-generation system configuration. The novel tri-generation system is suited to applications that require simultaneous electrical power, heating and dehumidification/cooling. There are several specific benefits to the integration of SOFC and liquid desiccant air conditioning technology, including; very high operational electrical efficiencies even at low system capacities and the ability to utilise low-grade thermal energy in a (useful) cooling process. Furthermore, the novel tri-generation system has the potential to increase thermal energy utilisation and thus the access to the benefits achievable from on-site electrical generation, primarily; reduced emissions and operating costs.

Using empirical SOFC and liquid desiccant component data, an energetic, economic and environmental performance analysis assessment of the novel system is presented. Significant conclusions from the work include: (1) SOFC and liquid desiccant are a viable technological pairing in the development of an efficient and effective tri-generation system. High tri-generation efficiencies in the range of 68-71% are attainable. (2) The inclusion of liquid desiccant provides an efficiency increase of 9-15% compared to SOFC electrical operation only, demonstrating the potential of the system in building applications that require simultaneous electrical power, heating and/or dehumidification/cooling. (3) Compared to an equivalent base case system, the novel tri-generation system is currently only economically viable with a government’s financial support. SOFC capital cost and stack replacement are the largest inhibitors to economic viability. Environmental performance is closely linked to electrical emission factor, and thus performance is heavily country dependent. (4) The economic and environmental feasibility of the novel tri-generation system will improve with predicted SOFC capital cost reductions and the transition to clean hydrogen production.


Elmer, T., Worall, M., Wu, S., & Riffat, S. (2016). Assessment of a novel solid oxide fuel cell tri-generation system for building applications. Energy Conversion and Management, 124,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 3, 2016
Online Publication Date Jul 9, 2016
Publication Date Sep 15, 2016
Deposit Date Jul 15, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jul 15, 2016
Journal Energy Conversion and Management
Print ISSN 0196-8904
Electronic ISSN 0196-8904
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 124
Keywords Tri-generation, solid oxide fuel cell, liquid desiccant air conditioning, emission assessment, economic assessment, building application
Public URL
Publisher URL


ECM-D-16-02011 accepted manuscript.pdf (630 Kb)

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