Integration of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells into oil and gas operations: needs, opportunities, and challenges

Khalid Al-Khori, Yusuf Bicer, Muammer Koç

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


The oil and gas industry generates a significant amount of harmful greenhouse gasses that cause irreversible environmental impacts. The level of impact is worsened by the world's utter dependence on fossil fuels as its primary source of energy, as well as the low efficiency of energy plants processing such fuels. Utilizing a renewable energy source instead of oil and gas is the ultimate long-term solution to this problem. However, there will be a transitional phase from fossil fuels-based economy to a projected economy based on cleaner hydrocarbon resources, and natural gas will play a significant role in such a transition. The primary purpose of this review study is to develop a fundamental understanding to enhance operational efficiency and to reduce emissions associated with oil and gas operations by integrating a clean energy conversion system - Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC). SOFCs have been proven to be highly efficient electrochemical devices that directly convert chemical energy to electricity with the potential to improve system efficiencies. This will, in turn significantly reduce emissions in oil and gas operations. Enabling an effective integration, smarter utilization of SOFC systems at different scales can lead to overall system efficiency improvements. This review study will highlight the ongoing integration of SOFC in different areas and then select the most suitable aspect of such integration for natural gas processing plants. Areas of improvement could include the SOFC integration with steam and power systems, integration with flare system, or even combined with PV, to provide the required energy throughout the day. Besides, this study will highlight the challenges related to the usage of SOFCs in gas plants, primarily financial-related challenges but also performance challenges. The study further discusses recent developments in this field as well as future work needed to enhance and encourage the integration of SOFC systems in energy-intensive and highly pollutant oil and gas operations, to convert them into sustainable and greener processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118924
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2019



  • Efficiency
  • Emissions
  • Flare
  • Fuel
  • Natural gas
  • SOFC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

Cite this