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1. WO2007091160 - COMBUSTION STATE DETERMINING APPARATUS WITH CATALYTIC COMBUSTION UNIT AND FUEL CELL

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[ EN ]

What is claimed is:
1. An apparatus for determining a combustion state of a catalytic combustion unit, comprising:
a fuel cell;
a catalytic combustion unit including a catalytic unit; and wherein the catalytic combustion unit is configured to mix an anode off-gas discharged from a fuel pole of the fuel cell and an oxidizing agent gas different from a cathode off-gas discharged from an oxidizing agent pole of the fuel cell and configured to perform combustion processing in the catalytic unit;
an upstream temperature detecting unit for detecting a gas temperature at an upstream side of the catalytic unit; and
a controller configured to compare at least one of the gas temperature at the upstream side of the catalytic unit and a rate of upstream temperature increase with a reference value to determine if gas-phase combustion occurs at the upstream side of the catalytic unit.

2. The apparatus according to claim 1, further comprising:
a downstream temperature detecting unit for detecting a gas temperature at a downstream side of the catalytic unit; and wherein the controller is further configured to compare at least one of the gas temperature at the upstream I side of the catalytic unit and the rate of upstream temperature increase with a corresponding one of the gas temperature at the downstream side of the catalytic unit and a rate of downstream temperature increase to determine if the gas-phase combustion occurs at the upstream side of the catalytic unit.

3. The apparatus according to claim 1, further comprising: a branching unit disposed at an upstream side of the fuel cell for dividing and supplying the oxidizing agent gas supplied to the oxidizing agent pole of the fuel cell to the catalytic combustion unit.

4. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the oxidizing agent gas supplied to the catalytic combustion unit is supplied by an oxidizing agent supply unit different from an oxidizing agent supply unit for supplying oxidizing agent gas to the oxidizing agent pole of the fuel cell.

5. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the oxidizing agent gas supplied to the catalytic combustion unit is supplied after passing through a case covering the fuel cell.

6. , The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the catalytic combustion unit further comprises:
an oxidizing agent gas inlet for supplying the oxidizing agent gas;
a fuel supply unit disposed at a downstream side of the oxidizing agent gas inlet for supplying the anode off-gas; and
a mixer disposed at a downstream side of the fuel supply unit and mixing the oxidizing agent gas and the anode off-gas; and wherein the catalytic unit is disposed at a downstream side of the mixer for combusting a mixed gas, the upstream temperature detecting unit disposed at the upstream side of the catalytic unit.

7. The apparatus according to claim 1, further comprising:
an exhaust unit for mixing the cathode off-gas and a combustion exhaust gas discharged from the catalytic combustion unit, the exhaust unit configured to discharge a resulting mixture outwardly of the apparatus.

8. The apparatus according to claim 7, further comprising:
a reverse flow preventing valve for preventing a reverse flow of a gas, the reverse flow preventing valve disposed on at least one of a cathode off-gas pipe and a combustion exhaust gas pipe for supplying the cathode off-gas and the combustion exhaust gas, respectively.

9. The apparatus according to claim 7, further comprising:
a pressure reducing unit for reducing a pressure of the cathode off-gas in the vicinity of a combustion exhaust gas pipe, the pressure reducing unit disposed at the exhaust unit.

10. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the controller is further configured to determine that the upstream side of the catalytic unit is in a gas-phase combustion state when the rate of upstream temperature increase is greater than an allowable rate of temperature increase determined according to operational conditions to thereby satisfy a first determining standard.

11. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the controller is further configured to determine that the upstream side of the catalytic unit is in a gas-phase combustion state when the rate of upstream temperature increase is greater than an allowable rate of temperature increase determined according to operational conditions to thereby satisfy a first determining standard, and when the gas temperature at the upstream side of the catalytic unit is greater than an allowable temperature determined according to operational conditions to thereby satisfy a second determining standard.

12. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the controller is further configured to determine that the upstream side of the catalytic unit is in a gas-phase combustion state when a difference between the rate of upstream temperature increase and a rate of downstream temperature increase at the downstream side of the catalytic unit is greater than a rate of temperature increase difference determined according to operational conditions to thereby satisfy a third determining standard.

13. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the controller is further configured to determine that the upstream side of the catalytic unit is in a gas-phase combustion state when the rate of upstream temperature increase is greater than an allowable rate of temperature increase determined according to operational conditions to thereby satisfy a first determining standard, and when a difference between the rate of upstream temperature increase and a rate of downstream temperature increase at the downstream side of the catalytic unit is greater than a rate of temperature increase difference determined according to operational conditions to thereby satisfy a third determining standard.

14. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the controller is further configured to determine that the upstream side of the catalytic unit is in a gas-phase combustion state when the gas temperature at the upstream side of the catalytic unit is greater than an allowable temperature determined according to operational conditions to thereby satisfy a second determining standard, and when a difference between the rate of upstream temperature increase and a rate of downstream temperature increase at the downstream side of the catalytic unit is greater than a rate of temperature increase difference determined according to operational conditions to thereby satisfy a third determining standard.

15. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the controller is further configured to determine that the upstream side of the catalytic unit is in a gas-phase combustion state when the rate of upstream temperature increase is greater than an allowable rate of temperature increase determined according to operational conditions to thereby satisfy a first determining standard, when the gas temperature at the upstream side of the catalytic unit is greater than an allowable temperature determined according to operational conditions to thereby satisfy a second determining standard, and when a difference between the rate of upstream temperature increase and a rate of downstream temperature increase at the downstream side of the catalytic unit is greater than a rate of temperature increase difference determined according to operational conditions to thereby satisfy a third determining standard.

16. The apparatus according to claim 15 wherein the controller is further configured to determine that the upstream side of the catalytic unit is in a gas-phase combustion state when the determining standards are consecutively satisfied within a time determined according to operational conditions.

17. The apparatus according claim 15 wherein the controller is further configured to determine that the upstream side of the catalytic unit is in a gas-phase combustion state when a predetermined ratio of the determining standards are satisfied during a time determined according to operational conditions.

18. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the controller is further configured to determine that the upstream side of the catalytic unit is in a gas-phase combustion state when at least one of (a) the rate of upstream temperature increase is greater than an allowable rate of temperature increase determined according to operational conditions to thereby satisfy a first determining standard, and (b) a difference between the rate of upstream temperature increase and a rate of downstream temperature increase at the downstream side of the catalytic unit is greater than a rate of temperature increase difference determined according to operational conditions to thereby satisfy a third determining standard, and the gas temperature at the upstream side of the catalytic unit is higher than the gas temperature of the downstream side of the catalytic unit by an amount greater than a temperature difference determined according to operational conditions to thereby satisfy a fourth determining standard.

19. A method for determining a combustion state of a catalytic combustion unit including a catalytic unit, a fuel cell positioned upstream from the catalytic combustion unit, the method comprising:
mixing in the catalytic combustion unit an anode off-gas discharged from a fuel pole of the fuel cell and an oxidizing agent gas different from a cathode off-gas discharged from an oxidizing agent pole of the fuel cell;
performing a combustion process in the catalytic unit;
detecting a gas temperature at an upstream side of the catalytic unit; and
comparing at least one of the gas temperature at the upstream side of the catalytic unit and a rate of upstream temperature increase with a reference value for determining if gas phase combustion occurs at the upstream side of the catalytic unit.

20. The method of claim 19, further comprising:
supplying the oxidizing agent gas from an air supply apparatus, by passing a supply of air through a case surrounding a cell stack forming the fuel cell before mixing in the catalytic combustion unit.

21. The method of claim 20, further comprising:
supplying air amounts required by the fuel cell and the catalytic combustion unit with at least one other air supply apparatus; and
positioning the at least one other air supply apparatus in a flow path in between the fuel cell stack and the catalytic combustion unit.