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WIREs Energy Environ.
Impact Factor: 3.297

Trends in the processing and manufacture of solid oxide fuel cells

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Electrochemical devices based on solid‐state ceramic materials such as solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) and solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOECs) are promising technologies which are gaining importance in today's rapidly developing energy frameworks. In particular, these high‐temperature variants offer further potential benefits such as increased fuel flexibility and higher system efficiencies. One of the significant challenges for SOFCs is the creation of robust, durable, and affordable cells. While the search for new materials remains an important research activity, the role of process development for fabrication and manufacture should not be underestimated. Indeed better understanding between materials, processing, and the resulting microstructure is vital for improving cell performance. The links between cell design and various processing techniques are explored. The most common approaches are based on thick film ceramic processes where recent trends include areas such as production of thinner tape cast layers and challenges in the application of aqueous systems to cell processing. Decoupling the processing and control of bulk and catalytic microstructures within the cell has recently been a very active area of development with techniques such as impregnation and exsolution showing increasingly promising results. Thin film techniques such as physical vapor deposition are also still being investigated for micro SOFCs or thin interfacial layers. In all cases, materials and process development should be closely linked, as high quality, reliable microstructures are essential to optimize the chemistry taking place on the materials and viable routes to manufacture are vital to transferring new materials into commercial devices. WIREs Energy Environ 2017, 6:e248. doi: 10.1002/wene.248 This article is categorized under: Fuel Cells and Hydrogen > Science and Materials
Controlled and engineered porosity using polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) pore former with carefully controlled pH, pore former volume fraction, and surfactant chemistry showing surface morphology at (a) low and (b) high magnification and (c) fracture surface.
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Effect of pore former morphology on pore shape with plate‐like Graphite flakes used beneath the dense layer and a spherical pore former above.
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A scanning electron microscopy (SEM) cross section of a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) fabricated with a freeze tape case nickel oxide (NiO)/yttria‐stabilized zirconia (YSZ) support showing the specific microstructure arising from this technique, scale bar 100 µm.
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Microstructure of a triple layer cocast structure with dense yttria‐stabilized zirconia (YSZ) sandwiched between two porous YSZ layers.
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Hybrid cell designs combining planar and tubular aspects (a) Segmented in series solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) geometry (b) St Andrews SOFCRoll.
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Tubular cell geometries a) Siemens Westinghouse, b) Micro tubular. (Fig 3a Reprinted with permission from Ref 28. Copyright 2013 Elsevier), (Fig 3b Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 2010 Elsevier)
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Diagram showing the development of anode supported planar cell supports.
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Schematic representation of basic solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) and solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOECs) operation.
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Polished cross section of thin film interlayer (dense) on a more porous electrolyte both around 1 µm deposited by physical vapor deposition (PVD). SEM image taken posttest with electrolyte porosity induced during operation. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 2012 Elsevier).
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Micro solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) architecture based on thin‐film deposition techniques onto etched Foturan® glass substrate showing (a) photograph of three cell array and (b) schematic cross section. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright Elsevier).
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Infiltrated LaSrCrMn (LSCM) microstructures showing morphology change in differing atmospheres |(a) from fairly continuous in oxidizing (calcination in air at 1200°C) to (b) distinct nanoscale grains in reducing atmosphere [5 h in humidified H2 (3% water)].
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The SEM micrographs of exsolved Ni particles after reductions of (La0.52Sr0.28)(Ni0.06Ti0.94)O3 for 12 h in 5%H2/Ar at 920°C (a) before and (b) after etching in HNO3 revealing underlying sockets. Inserts show histograms of particle and socket sizes base on scale bar (200 nm). (c) shows an atomic force microscopy image of sockets similar to those in (b). (Modified and Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited: Nature Energy).
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Electrode microstructure with Ni catalyst species exsolved from bulk skeletal support, the initially A‐site deficient, oxygen stoichiometric (La0.52Sr0.28)(Ni0.06Ti0.94)O3. Reduction for 20 h in 5%H2/Ar at 930°C. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 2013 Macmillan Publishers Ltd: Nature Energy).
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Performance data for 1 kWe level system with cells running on anode‐based La0.20Sr0.25Ca0.45TiO3 (LSCT) scaffold with infiltrated catalysts (Ni and Ce) (|a) overall system performance. (b) Cell cluster temperatures showing wide variations across the stack with some significantly higher than the average.
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Examples of microstructures evolved from impregnation (a) An electron conducting backbone (green) is infiltrated with precursor (orange) which forms dispersed catalyst particles across the surface. This can be a single material or multiple phases. (b) An ionic conducting backbone (yellow) is coated with precursors which will form a continuous electron or mixed ion electron conducting perovskite phase (orange). In some cases, surface morphology may change with atmosphere to increase triple phase boundary. (c) An ionic conducting backbone (yellow) is coated with precursors which will form a network of percolating electronic conducting particles. (Modified and Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 2016 Macmillan Publishers Ltd: Nature Energy).
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