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Fuel cell materials and components ppt

Fuel cell materials and components

.pdf   fuel cell materials.pdf (Size: 2.06 MB / Downloads: 92)


Fuel cells offer the possibility of zero-emissions electricity generation and increased energy security. We review
here the current status of solid oxide (SOFC) and polymer electrolyte membrane (PEMFC) fuel cells. Such solid
electrolyte systems obviate the need to contain corrosive liquids and are thus preferred by many developers over alkali,
phosphoric acid or molten carbonate fuel cells. Dramatic improvements in power densities have been achieved in both
SOFC and PEMFC systems through reduction of the electrolyte thickness and architectural control of the composite
electrodes. Current efforts are aimed at reducing SOFC costs by lowering operating temperatures to 500–800 °C, and
reducing PEMFC system complexity be developing ‘water-free’ membranes which can also be operated at temperatures
slightly above 100 °C.


Because of their potential to reduce the environmental
impact and geopolitical consequences of the
use of fossil fuels, fuel cells have emerged as tantalizing
alternatives to combustion engines. Like a
combustion engine, a fuel cell uses some sort of
chemical fuel as its energy source; but like a battery,
the chemical energy is directly converted to
electrical energy, without an often messy and relatively
inefficient combustion step.

Solid oxide fuel cells: State-of-the-art

An excellent review of ceramic fuel cells and
the materials from which they are constructed has
been presented by Minh [9], and we only briefly
summarize here the technology status for what one
can term ‘conventional’ solid oxide fuel cells.
Somewhat more recent, but less comprehensive,
reviews have been published by Ormerod [10] and
by Singhal [11]. Today’s demonstration SOFCs
utilize yttria stabilized zirconia (YSZ), containing
typically 8 mol% Y, as the electrolyte; a ceramicmetal
composite (cermet) comprised of Ni + YSZ
as the anode; and La1xSrxMnO3-d, (lanthanum
strontium manganite or LSM) as the cathode. Specific
anode and cathode compositions are often
omitted from publications, but typically x is 0.15
to 0.25 in LSM cathodes.

Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells:

Polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells
have been reviewed by Costamagna and Srinivasan
[17,18] and readers are referred to that work for a
more comprehensive discussion than can be provided
here. The most widely implemented electrolyte
in PEM fuel cells is Nafion manufactured by
duPont. Nafion and related polymers are comprised
of perfluorinated back-bones, which provide
chemical stability, and of sulfonated side-groups
which aggregate and facilitate hydration (see discussion
below). It is these hydrated, acidic regions
which allow relatively facile transport of protons,
but also restrict PEMFCs to low temperatures of
operation. As a consequence, precious metals are
required for electrocatalysis. For hydrogen/air fuel
cells, Pt nano-particles supported on carbon are utilized
for both the anode and cathode.


The most important property of a candidate electrolyte
material is, of course, the ionic conductivity.
Conductivity data of a broad range of
materials are summarized in Fig. 4 [20–25].
Material classes for electrolyte applications range
from ceramics, to polymers to acid salts, and the
mobile ion can be O2, H+, or (H2O)nH+. Solids
for which OH or CO3 are mobile are also
known, but the conductivities are not high enough
to be of technological relevance. It should be noted
that independent of the magnitude of the conductivity,
fuel cell design inherently leads to a preference
for a specific mobile species. In general, hydronium,
hydroxide and carbonate ion conductors
are unattractive because one must, by definition,
recycle an otherwise inert species: H2O in the case
of hydronium and hydroxide conductors or CO2 in
the case of carbonate conductors, to maintain ion


After almost a century of slow and at times
almost sputtering progress, fuel cell research has
exploded with activity over the past decade. The
results have been tremendous, with power densities
increasing by factors of two and catalyst utilization
by more than an order of magnitude. These
achievements have resulted from the development
of new materials (e.g. La1xSrxGa1yMgyO3d
oxide ion conductors) as well as new processing
techniques (e.g. electrocatalyst-layer deposition for
polymer electrolyte fuel cells). Reduction of cost
and system complexity remain significant challenges.
Current efforts in SOFC research are aimed
at (1) reducing operating temperatures to 500–800
°C to permit the use of low-cost ferritic alloys for
the interconnect component of the fuel cell stack
and (2) enabling the direct utilization of hydrocarbon
Fuel cells offer the possibility of zero-emission electricity generation and greater energy security. Such solid electrolytic systems avoid the need to contain corrosive liquids and are therefore preferred by many developers on fuel cells of alkali, phosphoric acid or fused carbonate. Dramatic improvements have been achieved in power densities in SOFC and PEMFC systems by reducing the thickness of the electrolyte and the architectural control of the composite electrodes. Current efforts are aimed at reducing SOFC costs by reducing operating temperatures to 500-800 ° C and reducing the complexity of the PEMFC system by developing "water free" membranes that can also operate at temperatures slightly above 100 ° C.

Fuel cells convert chemical energy directly into electrical energy with high efficiency and low emission of pollutants. However, before fuel cell technology can gain a significant share of the electric power market, it is necessary to address important issues. These issues include the optimal choice of fuel and the development of alternative materials in the fuel cell stack. Current fuel cell prototypes often use materials selected more than 25 years ago. Marketing aspects, including cost and durability, have revealed shortcomings in some of these materials. Here we summarize the recent advances in the search and development of innovative alternative materials.

The successful conversion of chemical energy into electrical energy into a primitive fuel cell was first demonstrated more than 160 years ago. However, despite the attractive system efficiencies and environmental benefits associated with fuel cell technology, it has been difficult to develop the first scientific experiments in commercially viable industrial products. These problems have often been associated with a lack of adequate materials or manufacturing routes that allow the cost of electricity per kWh to compete with existing technology, as noted in a recent survey.

The types of fuel cells in active development are summarized in Fig. 1. Alkaline fuel cell (AFC) cells, polymeric electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) and phosphoric acid fuel cells (PAFC) require essentially relatively pure hydrogen supplied to the anode. Therefore, the use of hydrocarbon or alcohol fuel requires that an external fuel processor be incorporated into the system. This element not only increases the complexity and cost of the system, but also decreases overall efficiency as shown in Figure 2. In contrast, molten carbonate fuel cells (MCFC) and solid oxide fuel cells ( SOFCs) operating at higher temperatures have the advantage that both CO and H2 can be oxidized electro-chemically at the anode. In addition, the fuel processing reaction can be carried out inside the stack, allowing innovative features of thermal integration / design management to provide excellent system efficiency (approximately 50%).

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