Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell catalyst and stack component degradation and lifetime: Fuel Gas CONTaminant effects and EXtraction strategies

Framework Programme: 
Call for proposals: 
Application area: 
Stationary power production and CHP
Project fact sheet: 

Reducing the carbon footprint of our society is imperative. This can be achieved by capturing and confining anthropogenic CO2 emissions as well as by replacing fossil-based fuels with renewable or waste-derived fuels. MCFCs are unique in being able to do both these things. Thanks to their operating principle, CO2 can be extracted from a gas stream on the cathode side and hydrocarbon fuels like biogas can be converted to electricity on the anode side. However, the degradation caused by the contaminants in these gases must be addressed. MCFC-CONTEX aims to tackle this problem from two sides:

1) investigating poisoning mechanisms caused by alternative fuels and applications and determining precisely MCFC tolerance limits for long-term endurance;

2) optimizing fuel and gas cleaning to achieve tailored degrees of purification according to MCFC operating conditions and tolerance.


The first line of activity requires extensive and long-term cell testing, so in parallel laboratories characterisation and accelerated tests will be carried out on a number of specified reagents and corresponding contaminants. A numerical model will be set up to simulate and predict the effects of contaminant poisoning. These activities are grouped in Work Package 2.


The second line of investigation (Work Package 4) entails characterization and development of clean-up materials and processes, focusing on the most promising options to be selected at the start of the project. Ultimately a pilot-scale gas cleaning unit optimized for the applications considered will be developed and run.


To carry out this research, real-time and highly accurate contaminant detection methods are necessary which have to be implemented in the fuel-clean-up-MCFC chain to monitor the fate of the harmful species and thus deduce their effects. This is a crucial, supporting task and acts as scientific cement between the previous two activities, and as such is collocated as Work Package 3.

Project reference: 
Topic SP1-JTI-FCH.3.3: Degradation and lifetime fundamentals
Project type: 
Research and technological development
Contract type: 
Collaborative Project
Start date: 
Friday, January 1, 2010
End date: 
Monday, June 30, 2014
36 months (originally), extended to 54 month
Project cost: 
€ 4,132,858.94
Project funding: 
€ 1,841,832.55


Mr Angelo MORENO
Mr Stephen McPHAIL
Other participating organisations: 

(MTU On Site Energy, MTU)                                            


(Ansaldo Fuel Cells)


TechnicalUniversity Munich (TUM)


Tubitak Marmara Research Centre


Universityof Genoa 


Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)


University of Perugia Italy

(OVM-ICCPET Institute)


JRC - Joint Research Centre, European Commission




Results or Deliverables files: 
Publisheable Reports: 
N. Di Giulio, B. Bosio, J. Han, S.J. McPhail, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 01/08/2014, 12300-12308, "Experimental analysis of SO2 effects on Molten Carbonate Fuel Cells"
I. Rexed, C. Lagergren, G. Lindbergh, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 04/08/2014, 12242-12250, "Effects of sulfur contaminants on MCFC performance"
Paolo Greppi, Barbara Bosio, and Elisabetta Arato, Journal of the American Chemical Society 20/03/2013, 8755-8764, "Membranes and molten carbonate fuel cells to capture CO2 and increment energy production in natural gas power plants"
N. Di Giulio, B. Bosio, V. Cigolotti, S.W. Nam, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 01/12/2012, 19329-19336, "Experimental and theoretical analysis of H2S effects on MCFCs"
Viviana Cigolotti, Stephen McPhail, Angelo Moreno, Sung Pil Yoon, Jong Hee Han, Suk Woo Nam, Tae-Hoon Lim, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 01/08/2011, 10311-10318, "MCFC fed with biogas: Experimental investigation of sulphur poisoning using impedance spectroscopy"
M. Cassir, S.J. McPhail, A. Moreno, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 02/12/2012, pp. 19345-19350, "Strategies and new developments in the field of molten carbonates and high-temperature fuel cells in the carbon cycle"
H. Devianto, E. Simonetti, S.J. McPhail, F. Zaza, V. Cigolotti, C. Paoletti, A. Moreno, A. La Barbera, I. Luisetto International Journal of Hydrogen Energy Volume 37, Issue 24, Electrochemical Impedance Study of the Poisoning Behaviour of Ni-based Anodes at Low Concentrations of H2S in a MCFC