Solid Oxide Fuel Cells, SOFC, optimization, load following, delamination


Extending fuel cell lifetime is a necessary objective for reducing fuel cell power generation cost of electricity. Capital costs comprise the most significant fraction of the cost of electricity. Reducing the frequency of fuel cell replacement can be achieved by implementing a control strategy that prevents excursions into operating regions causing failure. In this paper we implement a constrained MIMO model predictive controller (MPC) to avoid the failure modes relevant for a high-temperature tubular solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) system while performing load-following. The primary causes of failure are catalyst poisoning, fuel or air starvation, carbon deposition, and microcracking. Prior steady-state thermomechanical stress analysis in literature has demonstrated that the minimum cell temperature and maximum negative radial thermal gradient are primary causes of microcracking in the SOFC. State-of-the-art SOFC control literature often seeks to track a mean or outlet cell temperature. The authors have presented the first approach to control the primary two causes of thermally-driven microcracking in tubular SOFCs using constrained control. Constraints are also incorporated into a steady-state optimization to ensure a feasible optimum.

Original Publication Citation

Spivey, Benjamin J., John D. Hedengren, and Thomas F. Edgar. "Constrained control and optimization of tubular solid oxide fuel cells for extending cell lifetime." 2012 American Control Conference (ACC). IEEE, 2012.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Proceedings of the American Control Conference




Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology


Chemical Engineering

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor