Operation and Control of Hybrid Power Systems

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West Virginia
Project Term:
08/21/2018 - 12/31/2022

Critical Need:

In 2015, two-thirds of U.S. electricity was derived from fossil fuels. This electricity was then distributed through the electrical grid, ultimately netting a delivered efficiency of 34%. Ultra-high electrical efficiency (>70%) distributed generation systems, such as those that combine fuel cells and engines, can lower the cost and environmental burdens of providing this electricity. These hybrid systems convert natural gas or renewable fuels into electricity at substantially higher efficiencies and lower emissions than traditional systems. At the component and system levels, however, these hybrid technologies face challenges including the low-loss integration of fuel cells with engine-based waste recovery cycles, capital cost, and fuel cell stack durability.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) will simulate two 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 their “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.

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.


Through redundancy with the electric grid, distributed electrical generation systems can enhance the reliability of local electricity supplies.


High electric efficiency and decreased reliance on combustion would result in lower greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions.


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
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