Standard Article

System design

Fuel Cell Technology and Applications

Molten carbonate fuel cells and systems (MCFC)

  1. M. Farooque,
  2. H. Ghezel-Ayagh

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470974001.f307078

Handbook of Fuel Cells

Handbook of Fuel Cells

How to Cite

Farooque, M. and Ghezel-Ayagh, H. 2010. System design. Handbook of Fuel Cells. .

Author Information

  1. FuelCell Energy, Inc., Danbury, CT, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


Carbonate fuel cell systems promise to provide high efficiency ultra-clean power generation from a variety of gaseous, liquid and solid carbonaceous fuels. Designs of power generation units have been developed for natural gas, biogas, coal, ethanol and petroleum distillate fuels. The carbonate fuel cell, because of its high operating temperature (550–700 °C), allows significant system simplification by integrating the internal reforming feature into the fuel cell stack as well as use of the by-product heat in an efficient bottoming cycle. Simple cycle sub-megawatt and MW class natural gas systems promising efficiencies of 45–60% lowest heat value (LHV) are being developed for distributed power generation applications. Natural gas-fueled power plant concepts with efficiencies over 70% (LHV) have also been developed using carbonate fuel cells integrated with gas turbines. The carbonate fuel cell system promises unique efficiency advantages with high carbon dioxide containing medium and low Btu fuels such as coal gas and biogas. This is in lieu of carbon dioxide being a reactant in carbonates fuel cells as opposed to other types of fuel cells. This advantage coupled with internal reforming capability allows configuration of high efficiency power plant systems based on the carbonate fuel cell.


  • molten carbonate fuel cell;
  • MCFC;
  • direct fuel cell;
  • internally reforming DFC®;
  • gasification;
  • coal bed;
  • landfill;
  • ship service;
  • turbine