While high hurdles stand before the cheap manufacturing of fuel cells, engineers and scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago and nearby Argonne National Laboratory are starting a tightly focused research project to develop solid oxide fuel cells that may meet this goal.
"Solid oxide fuel cells offer the potential to scale down to very small dimensions," said Christos Takoudis, professor of bio- and chemical engineering at UIC, and lead investigator in a new $475,000 National Science Foundation grant to investigate ways to synthesize and characterize this type of fuel cell in a temperature range lower than what most currently operate.
SOFCs oxidize fuels by electrochemical conversion to create electricity, using a solid oxide as the electrolyte between an anode and cathode circuit. While their small size and solid state are attractive attributes, the higher operating temperatures that SOFCs' need -- currently as high as 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit -- are a big drawback.
Takoudis and his colleagues hope they can lower the operating temperatures to what is considered the "intermediate range" of between 1,100 and 1,500 degrees.
They also want to see if such fuel cells can be created at the "nano" level, measuring thickness in mere single-digit layers of atoms.
"We're trying to come up with new materials and processes to make these fuel cells very efficient at lower temperatures. Material and design demands for higher temperatures are much more severe and require additional precautionary measures," Takoudis said.
A key research focus is how well the main elements -- the anode, electrolyte and cathode -- work at interface junctions and what contamination problems exist, if any.
"As dimensions shrink, it becomes even more important, because the actual contact area is much greater with respect to the total volume than it is in bigger systems," Takoudis said.
UIC researchers will grow the materials to test as potential solid anodes, cathodes and electrolytes for their SOFCs, and then use Takoudis' lab and Argonne's Advanced Photon Source for a close probe of the materials as they generate electricity.
Jeffrey Miller, leader of Argonne's heterogeneous catalysis group, will oversee that part of the work. Other project investigators working with Takoudis include UIC engineering adjunct professors Gregory Jursich and Alan Zdunek, who will study the process of atomic layer and chemical vapor deposition methods to create fuel cell components and ways to maximize efficiency. Robert Klie, UIC associate professor of physics, will supervise electron microscopy study and analysis of material interfaces.
Creation of microscopic-sized, cooler-operating, highly efficient solid oxide fuel cells may open up a world of possible applications that offer the twin benefits of being ecologically benign and cheap.
"Today's cost of fuel cells is prohibitive," Takoudis said. "Our group wants to push the technology envelope to help make the costs reasonable and create a power source that does little harm to the environment."
Paul Francuch | Newswise Science News
How protons move through a fuel cell
22.06.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt
Fraunhofer IZFP acquires lucrative EU project for increasing nuclear power plant safety
21.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.
New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
22.06.2017 | Life Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences