Researchers make progress in optimizing solid oxide fuel cells

September 17, 2009

While our standard of life increases, so does the worldwide energy demand. In this vein, the application of technologies based on fuel cells is put forward as an alternative to the massive consumption of fossil fuels. One of the fuel cells of greatest current interest is the solid oxide one.

The PhD thesis by researcher at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Ms Ana Martínez Amesti, focused on optimising solid oxide fuel cells, one of the most promising technologies of the future for various applications (residential, commercial, portable devices, electric power stations, and so on). The author has entitled her thesis Solid oxide fuel cells. Studies on reactivity and optimisation of cathode-electrolyte interlayer.

Solid oxide fuel cells are the type of cells most studied in recent years. They have basically two outstanding characteristics: the electrodes and the electrolyte are solid and the versatility in the choice of fuels and oxidants due to high operational temperatures. As regards problems arising with this kind of cell, there are also two important ones: on the one hand, the difficulties in manufacturing, given that the ceramic materials of which they are made require high temperatures for their processing and, on the other, in some cases, the solid electrolyte degrades easily at the cell's working temperature, thus affecting its stability.

Thus, the principal alternative for achieving the economically viable marketing of solid oxide fuel cells is to reduce their operating temperature. In this way, one of the requisites is having mixed conducting materials that can be used as cathodes at operating temperatures of between 550ºC and 800ºC.

Ms Martínez has studied the problem that presents mixed oxides employed in solid oxide fuel cells, given that these materials react on occasions with the electrolyte, diminishing the power of the cathodes. As a solution to this problem, Ms Martínez proposed including an interlayer between the material employed as a cathode and the electrolyte, with the objective of reducing the solid state reactions taking place and, thus, improving the electrochemical response of the system. According to the PhD author, the introduction of an interlayer between the cathode and the electrolyte considerably enhances the conducting properties of all the cathodes.

This precisely has been one of the main objectives of this research work: the study of the processes that occur in at the electrolyte-cathode interphase. Once these interactions were investigated, a process of optimisation of the interlayer parameters was carried out, such as the microstructure, porosity and thickness. Finally, Ms Martínez undertook basic research on durability, aimed at determining the degradation suffered by the cells studied with temperature and time of exposition.

Source: Elhuyar Fundazioa

Explore further: Researchers develop 'MRI' for fuel cells

Related Stories

Researchers develop 'MRI' for fuel cells

June 16, 2006

As gasoline prices top $3 a gallon in major cities, the drive toward increasing energy efficiency and reducing air pollution has accelerated, and the development of fuel cells has become a major focus worldwide.

New fuel cell drives around hydrogen economy roadblocks

April 1, 2005

As gasoline prices climb ever higher and the U.S. Senate backs oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the possibility of a hydrogen economy -- where drivers tank up on clean-burning hydrogen fuel -- gleams ...

Oxygen Ions for Fuel Cells Get Loose at Low Temperatures

June 25, 2008

Seeking to understand a new fuel cell material, a research team working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in collaboration with the University of Liverpool, has uncovered a novel structure that ...

Less expensive fuel cell may be possible

October 3, 2006

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a new class of hydrogen fuel-cell catalysts that exhibit promising activity and stability. The catalysts are made of low-cost nonprecious metals entrapped in something ...

Chemical Could Revolutionize Polymer Fuel Cells

August 24, 2005

Heat has always been a problem for fuel cells. There’s usually either too much (ceramic fuel cells) for certain portable uses, such as automobiles or electronics, or too little (polymer fuel cells) to be efficient.

Recommended for you

Flying Dutch win world solar car race in Australia

October 12, 2017

Dominant Dutch team "Nuon" Thursday won an epic 3,000-kilometre (1,860-mile) solar car race across Australia's outback for the third-straight year in an innovative contest showcasing new vehicle technology.

Engineers identify key to albatross' marathon flight

October 11, 2017

The albatross is one of the most efficient travelers in the animal world. One species, the wandering albatross, can fly nearly 500 miles in a single day, with just an occasional flap of its wings. The birds use their formidable ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

jerryd
5 / 5 (1) Sep 19, 2009

The author uses a lot of words to say little. There is no detail to make this worth reading.

Facts are these are to ineff unless used where one can take advantage of the waste heat. Then there are cost, life concerns. Fuel cell will continue to be called fool cells until their many problems are solved.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.