Operation and Control of Hybrid Power Systems

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West Virginia
Project Term:
08/21/2018 - 06/30/2023

Critical Need:

In our carbon-neutral future, energy-dense fuels will continue to be economically critical energy storage media in many stationary and transportation applications. To preserve our climate, however, we must rapidly transition to fuels synthesized from carbon-neutral resources rather than extracted from fossil reserves. These fuels are likely to be more expensive than their fossil counterparts. It is also unclear which of many current carbon-neutral options (e.g., hydrogen, ammonia, synthetic aviation fuel) will be adopted at scale. Given this uncertainty and cost risk, fuel flexibility and ultra-high conversion efficiency will be especially critical energy conversion system performance metrics. Solid oxide fuel cell and engine integrated systems offer the potential for ultra-high efficiency (>70%) and fuel flexibility at an attractive cost (<$1/W). Additional development is required to address a number of outstanding challenges including achieving the low-loss integration of fuel cells with engine-based waste recovery cycles and operation of fuel cell stacks at elevated pressure with acceptable life.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) will simulate 2 different 100 kW-scale natural gas-fueled hybrid system configurations. These hybrid systems couple a solid oxide fuel cell stack with either a gas turbine or an internal combustion engine. In these simulations, NETL will use its cyber-physical system, in which the “cyber” fuel cell model is coupled with a physical turbine or engine to determine optimal system architectures, including equipment sizing and reforming method and extent. NETL will also design, build, and test multivariable control loops to optimize system efficiency for both hybrid cycles. The objective is robust and stable performance at base-load operation and disturbance rejection during load transients and other dynamic events. NETL will also serve in an advisory role for the Phase 2 system teams.

Potential Impact:

The INTEGRATE program is developing a new class of distributed and ultra-efficient (>70%) fuel to electric power conversion systems for commercial and industrial customers.


Distributed electrical generation systems can produce highly reliable and resilient electric power supplies.


High electric efficiency and decreased reliance on combustion would result in lower greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions. These systems also provide the opportunity for faster and more economically viable transition to a carbon neutral power generation sector.


High efficiency and the avoidance of electric grid transmission and distribution costs offer the potential for lower-cost electric power.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. David Tew
Project Contact:
Dr. David Tucker
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Ames National Laboratory

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