Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Research could usher in next generation of batteries, fuel cells


University of South Carolina and Clemson reseachers uncover clean interfaces

Scientists from South Carolina's leading public universities--the University of South Carolina and Clemson University--have made a discovery that could dramatically improve the efficiency of batteries and fuel cells.

The research, which is published in the journal Nature Communications, involves improving the transport of oxygen ions, a key component in converting chemical reactions into electricity. The team studied a well-known material, gadolinium doped ceria (GDC), which transports oxygen ions and is currently in use as a solid oxide fuel cell electrolyte. Through the use of additives and a "smart" chemical reaction, they demonstrated a greatly enhanced conductivity in GDC. The result is a faster and more efficient conversion into electricity.

"This breakthrough will pave the path to fabricate next generation energy conversion and storage devices with significantly enhanced performance, increasing energy efficiency and making energy environmentally benign and sustainable," said Fanglin (Frank) Chen, a chemical engineering professor at the University of South Carolina.

"The origin of the low grain boundary conductivity is known to be segregation of gadolinium (Gd) in the grain boundary which leads to a built-in charge at the interface referred to as the space charge effect," Chen said. "This built in charge serves as a barrier for ion transport at the interface. The challenge is how to effectively avoid the segregation of Gd in the grain boundary. The grain boundary is extremely narrow, on the order of a few nano-meters. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to characterize and rationally control the amount of Gd in such a narrow region."

"In order to make 'clean' grain boundaries and avoid the segregation of Gd at the interface we have added an electronic conductor cobalt iron spinel (CFO), resulting in a composite structure," said Kyle Brinkman, a professor at Clemson University and co-author of the work.

"The CFO reacts with the excess Gd present in the grain boundary of GDC to form a third phase. It was found that this new phase could also serve as an excellent oxygen ionic conductor. We further investigated the atomic microstructure around the grain boundary through a series of high resolution characterization techniques and found that Gd segregation in the grain boundary had been eliminated, leading to dramatic improvement in the grain boundary oxygen ionic conductivity of GDC."

The improved oxygen ionic conductivity of GDC has been demonstrated in an oxygen permeation experiment where the elevated oxygen ion transport was used to separate pure oxygen from air at elevated temperatures. The approach of targeting emergent phases resulting in clean interfaces can be applied to a number of essential materials for energy conversion and storage devices used in handheld electronics, vehicles, and power plants, making them more cost-effective, efficient and environmentally friendly.

Currently, ceramic composites consisting of ionic and electronic conductive components like those in this study are under consideration for membrane separation devices that provide oxygen for enhanced conversion of coal and natural gas, as well as for membrane reactors used in natural gas conversion and recovery.

Other team members include Ye Lin and Shumin Fang, both from the University of South Carolina and Dong Su, a scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory who contributed to the electron microscopy investigations.

Media Contact

Jeff Stensland


Jeff Stensland | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Fraunhofer FIT joins Facebook's Telecom Infra Project
25.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions
21.10.2016 | Stanford University

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>