Fuel cells must be made more efficient if they are to provide a viable alternative to traditional energy sources, and the choice of materials is crucial to how efficient they are. New findings from scientists at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Uppsala University, and Linköping University are opening new ways of finding optimal materials for better fuel cells much more quickly.
In the future solid oxide fuel cells may supply residential areas like Stockholm with electricity. In a solid oxide fuel cell, chemically stored energy is converted to electricity with a high degree of efficiency. The figure illustrates this with the chemical reaction between oxygen and hydrogen, which yields water (plus electricity). The article by Andersson et al. explains how the electrolyte should be constructed for optimal performance.
Using methods of calculation from quantum mechanics, the researchers managed to find a better way of understanding the connection between the atomic structure of an element and its capacity to conduct oxygen ions, which is key to the efficiency of fuel cells that use solid oxides as electrolyte materials (so-called solid oxide fuel cells).
The faster the transport of oxygen ions through the material occurs, the better the fuel cell will function. The findings are now being presented in the prestigious American scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS.
Magnus Myrén | alfa
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