solid oxide fuel cell, load following, model predictive control, SOFC, physics-based modeling


Degradation of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) can be minimized by maintaining reliability parameters during load changes. These reliability parameters are critical to maintain power generation efficiency over an extended life of the SOFC. For SOFCs to be commercially viable, the life must exceed 20,000 hours for load following applications. This is not yet achieved because transient stresses damage the fuel cell and degrade the performance over time. This study relates the development of a dynamic model for SOFC systems in order to predict optimal manipulated variable moves along a prediction horizon. The model consists of hundreds of states and parameters that permit tracking of a realistic response. Previously, this detailed model was too computationally intensive to run in parallel with the SOFC process. The contribution of this paper is an application study to enable a large-scale simulation model to be used in Model Predictive Control (MPC) without simplification. Such a technology permits real time calculation of controller moves while loads are followed during operation. The contribution demonstrates the assumptions and approach necessary to provide real-time calculations for optimal predictive control operations using a rigorous model of the SOFC process. Large-scale process models are rarely employed in real-time control because of the prohibitive computational expense necessary to complete the calculations within the specified cycle time. An efficient model based predictive controller reduces operational fluctuations related to the startup and shutdown conditions, without exceeding reliability limits in the cells.

Original Publication Citation

Jacobsen, Lee T., Benjamin J. Spivey, and John D. Hedengren. "Model predictive control with a rigorous model of a solid oxide fuel cell." 2013 American Control Conference. IEEE, 2013.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


American Control Conference Proceedings




Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology


Chemical Engineering

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor