Development and characterisation of an A-site deficient perovskite as alternative anode material for solid oxide fuel cells
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The research presented in this thesis is a collection of many different, yet connected, parts that stemmed from the development of a new alternative material intended to be utilised as anode material in solid oxide fuel cells. The main part is the research conducted in the development and characterisation of the novel A-site deficient La₀.2₂Sr₀.₇₋ₓCaₓTiO₃. Calcium introduction resulted in reducing this perovskite unit cell volume which, at the beginning, enhanced its electrical conductivity in reducing conditions. However, the ideal cubic symmetry coud not be maintained, as in the starting material LA₀.₂Sr₀.₇TiO₃, as a result of the increased A-site ionic radius mismatch and two lower symmetries were observed at room temperature. These were the tetragonal I4/mcm for 0.1 ≤ x ≤ 0.35 and orthorhombic Pbnm for 0.4 ≤ x ≤ 0.7. Higher temperature NPD data showed that the orthorhombic samples transformed into higher symmetries with Pbnm → I4/mcm → Pm3-m phase transitions. Detailed crystallographic analysis is discussed; where the different unit cells showed changes to the tilts of the BO₆ octahedra, along with distortions to these octahedra. DC conductivity measurements showed a high electrical conductivity of 27.5 S/cm for a pre-reduced composition La₀.₂Sr₀.₂₅Ca₀.₄₅TiO₃ at 900°C and pO₂ = 10⁻¹⁹ atm. This material showed very encouraging features; which makes it a very promising anode material for SOFCs. A study was also done which explores the best renewable energy options for the United Arab Emirates given its local climate and other aspects. The reliance on seawater desalination is argued to by unsustainable for different reasons. Thus, water security should be a main element in the planning process for adopting renewable energy technologies. A system that combines different technologies; with a focus on fuel cells technology; is outlined which is thought of to be a very promising basis for a broader system that will secure power and water in a very environment friendly way. Different compositions of the system La₀.₂Sr₀.₇₋ₓCaₓTiO₃ were also studied using AC impedance spectroscopy in order to establish whether or not this system can show a ferroelectric behaviour. Results showed a variation in the dielectric constant of different samples with temperature; however, no Curie point was observed. Nonetheless, the results did show that the different compositions were very homogeneous when fully oxygenated and there were some indications of possible symmetry changes at sub-ambient temperatures. The final part of this thesis outlined the work done towards the development of a new analytical instrument. An existing TGA instrument was altered in order to provide a simultaneous thermogravimetric analysis and DC conductivity measurement for solid solutions at controlled temperature and oxygen partial pressure. Results were obtained for different samples of the system La₀.₂Sr₀.₇₋ₓCaₓTiO₃ which showed a great dependence of the electrical conductivity on the oxygen stoichiometry in these oxides. Also, a direct method is possible with this instrument to estimate the oxygen chemical diffusion coefficient using the electrical conductivity relaxation method. This new setup will be very useful for different electrochemical and thermal studies which can broaden the understanding of the different mechanisms that affect the performance of different solid state materials.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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