Material Development

The Material Development project is led by Research Team Member Nader Hedayat.

Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) have been studied extensively, but more fundamental research has to be performed to achieve high performance and durable fuel cells. The microstructure of SOFCs is what determines the performance and durability. The microstructure depends on the processing routes and fabrication techniques.

Advanced materials development can be achieved through materials microstructure characterization, because the performance is closely linked to the morphology and composition of the materials. The state of the art materials for fuel cell electrodes are porous composite structures that can provide electronic and ionic conductivity. The pores allow gas to diffuse into the fuel cell; the gas is then oxidized and produces electricity. The percolated electronic and ionic phases and the gas diffused through the interconnected pores coexist at triple phase boundaries that are the electrochemical reaction sites of the electrodes.

The characterization techniques for SOFCs can be classified into two major groups:

  • Electrochemical characterization techniques (In-situ) that can provide information about the operating fuel cell, including current-voltage (I-V) measurement, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS)
  • Ex-situ characterization techniques that can highlight the information provided by in-situ characterization, including porosity determination, BET surface area measurement, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), x-ray diffraction (XRD), and gas permeability