Semiconductor-ionic Materials for Low Temperature Solid Oxide Fuel Cells
Abstract: Solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) is considered as an attractive candidate for energy conversion within the fuel cell (FC) family due to several advantages including environment friendly, use of non-noble materials and fuel flexibility. However, due to high working temperatures, conventional SOFC faces many challenges relating to high operational and capital costs besides the limited selection of the FC materials and their compatibility issues. Recent SOFC research is focused on how to reduce its operational temperature to 700 ºC or lower. Investigation of new electrolytes and electrode materials, which can perform well at low temperatures, is a comprehensive route to lowering the working temperature of SOFC. Meanwhile, semiconductor-ionic materials based on semiconductors (perovskite/composite) and ionic materials (e.g. ceria based ion conductors) have been identified as potential candidates to operate in low temperature range with adequate SOFC power outputs.This investigation focuses on the development of semiconductor-ionic materials for low temperature solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) and electrolyte-layer free fuel cell (EFFC). The content of this work is divided into four parts:First part of the thesis consists of the work on conventional SOFC to build knowledge and bridge from conventional SOFC to the new EFFC. Novel composite electrode (semiconductor) materials are synthesized and studied using established electrochemical and analytical methods such as x-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). The phase structure, morphology and microstructure of the composite electrodes are studied using XRD and SEM, and the weight loss is determined using TGA. An electrical conductivity of up to 143 S/cm of as-prepared material is measured using DC 4 probe method at 550 ºC. An electrolyte, samarium doped ceria (SDC) is synthesized to fabricate a conventional three component SOFC device. The maximum power density of 325 mW/cm2 achieved from the conventional device at 550 ºC.In the second part of the thesis, semiconductor-ionic materials based on perovskite and composite materials are prepared for low temperature SOFC and EFFC devices. Semiconductor-ionic materials are prepared via nanocomposite approach based on two-phase semiconductor electrode and ionic electrolyte. This semiconductor-ionic functional component was shown to integrate all fuel cell components anode, electrolyte and cathode functions into a single component, i.e. “three in one”, resulting in enhanced catalytic activity and improved SOFC performance.The third part of the thesis addresses the development and optimization of the EFFC technologies by studying the Schottky junction mechanism in such semiconductor-ionic type devices. Perovskite and functional nanocomposites (semiconductor-ionic materials) are developed for EFFC devices. Materials characterizations are performed using a number of standard experimental and analytical techniques. Maximum power densities from 600 mW/cm2 up to 800 mW/cm2 have been achieved at 600 ºC.Fourth part of the thesis describes the theoretical simulation of EFFCs. In this work, an updated numerical model is applied in order to study the EFFC device, which introduces some modifications to the existing relations for traditional fuel cell models. The simulated V-I and P-I curves have been compared with experimental curves, and both types of curves show a good consistency.
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