A three-dimensional multi-cell model based on a prototypical, planar solid oxide fuel cell (pSOFC) stack design using compliant mica-based seal gaskets was constructed in this study to perform comprehensive thermal stress analyses by using a commercial finite element analysis (FEA) code. Effects of the applied assembly load on the thermal stress distribution in the given integrated pSOFC stack with such a compressive sealing design were characterized. A comparison was made with a previous study for a similar comprehensive multi-cell pSOFC stack model but using only a rigid type of glass-ceramic sealant instead. Simulation results indicate that stress distributions in the components such as positive electrode-electrolyte-negative electrode (PEN) plate, PEN-supporting window frame, nickel mesh, and interconnect were mainly governed by the thermal expansion mismatch rather than by the applied compressive load. An applied compressive load of 0.6 MPa could eliminate the bending deformation in the PEN-frame assembly plate leading to a well joined structure. For a greater applied load, the critical stresses in the glass-ceramic and mica sealants were increased to a potential failure level. In this regard, a 0.6 MPa compressive load was considered an optimal assembly load. Changing the seal between the connecting metallic PEN-supporting frame and interconnect from a rigid type of glass-ceramic sealant to a compressive type of mica gasket would significantly influence the thermal stress distribution in the PEN plate. The critical stress in the PEN was favorably decreased at room temperature but considerably increased at operating temperature due to such a change in sealing design. Such differences in the stress distribution could be ascribed to the differences in the constrained conditions at the interfaces of adjacent components under various sealing designs. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.