FuelCell Energy has filed a patent for a fuel cell system that includes a fuel cell module and an ejector. The fuel cell module has an anode section that outputs an anode exhaust stream, which is then split into an anode recycle stream and a system outlet stream. The ejector has a low pressure inlet that receives a suction stream and a motive inlet that receives a motive stream, both of which are portions of the anode recycle stream. The ejector outputs an ejector output stream, which is then used as an input stream for the anode section. GlobalData’s report on FuelCell Energy gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData s company profile on FuelCell Energy, hydrogen fuel cells was a key innovation area identified from patents. FuelCell Energy's grant share as of June 2023 was 1%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Fuel cell system with an ejector for recycling exhaust

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: FuelCell Energy Inc

A recently filed patent (Publication Number: US20230178763A1) describes a fuel cell system that aims to improve the efficiency of fuel cell operation. The system includes a fuel cell module with an anode section that outputs an anode exhaust stream. A first junction splits the anode exhaust stream into an anode recycle stream and a system outlet stream. The system also incorporates an ejector, which receives a suction stream and a motive stream, both comprising portions of the anode recycle stream. The ejector then outputs an ejector output stream, which is used as part of the anode input stream for the fuel cell module.

To enhance the performance of the fuel cell system, a cooler is included to cool and remove water from the second portion of the anode recycle stream. This cooler sprays a cold water stream over the second portion to cool and condense steam out of the anode exhaust stream. Additionally, the motive stream can include a fresh fuel stream, which is pressurized by a compressor before being received by the motive inlet. Another cooler is used to cool and remove water from the second portion of the anode recycle stream, ensuring that the motive stream received by the compressor is within a specific temperature range.

The patent also describes the configuration of the first junction, which splits the anode exhaust stream to ensure that the system outlet stream comprises between 25% and 35% of the anode exhaust stream. The anode recycle stream further splits at a second junction, with the first portion comprising between 12% and 22% of the anode exhaust stream, and the second portion comprising between 48% and 58% of the anode exhaust stream.

In addition to the fuel cell system, the patent also outlines a method for recycling fuel cell anode exhaust. This method involves separating the anode exhaust stream into a system outlet stream, a suction stream, and a dryer stream. The system outlet stream is discharged away from the fuel cell module, while the suction stream is directed into the low pressure inlet of an ejector. At least a portion of the dryer stream is directed into the motive inlet of the ejector, and the ejector output stream is directed to the anode inlet of the fuel cell module.

Overall, this patent presents a fuel cell system and method that optimize the recycling of anode exhaust, improve efficiency, and enhance the performance of fuel cells. The inclusion of coolers, compressors, and specific stream configurations contribute to the overall effectiveness of the system.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies