Abstract

The solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC), alone and integrated with a gas turbine (SOFC/GT), is known for its high electrical efficiency and low emissions during operation. Before the SOFC/GT operation phase, the process life cycle also includes the extraction of ores, production of materials and components, and demolition, all these together with their intervening transports. By performing a life cycle assessment (LCA) for the SOFC/GT, the total environmental impact of the process is established and environmental “hot spots” are found.

The results of the LCA of the SOFC/GT process showed that the most contributing phase to environmental impact, within all investigated impact categories during the life cycle, is the production of the SOFC-module. The pyrolysis processes of raw materials and the assemblage of the SOFC sub-components require an extended amount of energy. Of course, both these processes are carried out under laboratory circumstances, but even when the use of energy is reduced by 50%, this phase is more dominant than other power producing processes. Further effort has to be put into development of materials and manufacturing processes in order to reduce the resources used during the production phase of the SOFC.

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