The bootstrap start-up system (42) achieves an efficient start-up of the power plant (10) that minimizes formation of soot within a reformed hydrogen rich fuel. A burner (48) receives un-reformed fuel directly from the fuel supply (30) and combusts the fuel to heat cathode air which then heats an electrolyte (24) within the fuel cell (12). A dilute hydrogen forming gas (68) cycles through a sealed heat-cycling loop (66) to transfer heat and generated steam from an anode side (32) of the electrolyte (24) through fuel processing system (36) components (38, 40) and back to an anode flow field (26) until fuel processing system components (38, 40) achieve predetermined optimal temperatures and steam content. Then, the heat-cycling loop (66) is unsealed and the un-reformed fuel is admitted into the fuel processing system (36) and anode flow (26) field to commence ordinary operation of the power plant (10).
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
This invention was made with government support under Contract No. DE-NT0003894 awarded by the Department of Energy. The Government therefore has certain rights in this invention.