Bloom Energy has been granted a patent for a fuel cell system that includes electrochemical pump separators to separate carbon dioxide from a fuel exhaust stream. The system also includes a gas separator and a fuel exhaust cooler located outside a hotbox. The system comprises a fuel cell stack, pump separators, exhaust and separation conduits, a hydrogen conduit, and a recycling conduit. GlobalData’s report on Bloom 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 Bloom Energy, Polymer electrolyte fuel cells was a key innovation area identified from patents. Bloom Energy's grant share as of September 2023 was 43%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Patent granted for a fuel cell system with pump separators

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: Bloom Energy Corp

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11777125B2) describes a system for fuel cell operation. The system includes a fuel cell stack and two pump separators that have an electrolyte between a cathode and an anode. The system also includes various conduits to connect different components.

One conduit connects the fuel exhaust outlet of the fuel cell stack to a splitter, while another conduit connects the outlet of the splitter to the anode inlet of the first pump separator. A separate conduit connects the anode outlet of the first pump separator to the anode inlet of the second pump separator. Additionally, a hydrogen conduit connects the cathode outlet of the second pump separator to the fuel inlet of the fuel cell stack. There is also a recycling conduit that connects the hydrogen conduit to a fuel inlet conduit.

The system may further include a byproduct conduit that connects the anode outlet of the second pump separator to either a carbon dioxide use or a storage device. If a carbon dioxide use is chosen, the system may include a dryer to remove water from the carbon dioxide stream and a cryogenic storage device to store the dry ice produced. Alternatively, the carbon dioxide can be stored as a shippable liquid.

The electrolyte used in the system is a proton conductor electrolyte. The hydrogen in the recycling conduit can be mixed with incoming fuel from a fuel source before being recycled back to the fuel cell stack. The hydrogen conduit contains a high concentration of hydrogen, ranging from 95% to about 100% H2.

The pump separators in the system have a carbon microlayer as part of the gas diffusion layer of their respective anodes. The anodes themselves have a bilayer structure, consisting of a polytetrafluoroethylene bonded first electrode and an ionomer bonded second electrode. The electrodes of the pump separators may include Pt or Pt-Ru.

Other components of the system include an anode tail gas oxidizer (ATO), which is connected to the cathode outlet of the first pump separator via an ATO inlet conduit. The fuel cell stack is located within a hotbox, and the pump separators are electrochemical hydrogen pump separators.

Overall, this patented system provides a detailed configuration for the operation of a fuel cell stack, including the recycling of hydrogen and the potential use or storage of carbon dioxide byproducts.

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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 across the world’s largest industries.