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
Waste from paper and pulp industry supplies raw material for development of new redox flow batteries
12.10.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Low-cost battery from waste graphite
11.10.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research