Studies of anode supported solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) based on La- and Ca-Doped SrTiO₃
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Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) have attracted much interest as the most efficient electrochemical device to directly convert chemical energy to usable electrical energy. The porous Ni-YSZ anode known as the state-of-the-art cermet anode material is found to show serious degradation when using hydrocarbon as fuel due to carbon deposition, sulphur poisoning, and nickel sintering. In order to overcome these problems, doped strontium titanate has been investigated as a potential anode material due to its high electronic conductivity and stability in reducing atmosphere. In this work, A-site deficient strontium titanate co-doped with lanthanum and calcium, La₀.₂Sr₀.₂₅Ca₀.₄₅TiO₃ (LSCT[sub](A-)), was examined. Flat multilayer ceramics have been produced using the aqueous tape casting technique by controlling the sintering behaviour of LSCT[sub](A-), resulting in a 450µm thick porous LSCT[sub](A-) scaffold with a well adhered 40µm dense YSZ electrolyte. Impregnation of CeO₂ and Ni results in a maximum power density of 0.96Wcm⁻² at 800°C, higher than those of without impregnation (0.124Wcm⁻²) and with impregnation of Ni alone (0.37Wcm⁻²). The addition of catalysts into LSCT[sub](A-) anode significantly reduces the polarization resistance of the cells, suggesting an insufficient electrocatalytic activity of the LSCT[sub](A-) backbone for hydrogen oxidation, but LSCT[sub](A-) can provide the electronic conductivity required for anode. Later, the cells with the configuration of LSCT[sub](A-)/YSZ/LSCF-YSZ were prepared by the organic tape casting and impregnation techniques with only 300-m thick anode as support. The effects of metallic catalysts in the anode supports on the initial performance and stability in humidified hydrogen were discussed. The nickel and iron impregnated LSCT[sub](A-) cell exhibits a maximum powder density of 272mW/cm² at 700°C, much larger than 43mW/cm² for the cell without impregnation and 112mW/cm² for the cell with nickel impregnation. Simultaneously, the bimetal Ni-Fe impregnates have significantly reduced the degradation rates in humidified hydrogen (3% H₂O) at 700°C. The enhancement from impregnation of the bi-metal can possibly be the result of the presence of ionic conducting Wustite Fe₁₋ₓO that resides underneath the Ni-Fe metallic particles and better microstructure. Third, in order to improve the ionic conductivity of the anode support and increase the effective TPBs, ionic conducting ceria was impregnated into the LSCT[sub](A-) anode, along with the metallic catalysts. The CeO₂-LSCT[sub](A-) cell shows a poor performance upon operation in hydrogen atmosphere containing 3% H₂O; and with addition of metallic catalysts, the cell performance increases drastically by almost three-fold. However, the infiltrated Ni particles on the top of ceria layer cause the deposition of carbon filament leading to cell cracking when exposure to humidified methane (3% H₂O). No such behaviour was observed on the CeO₂-NiFe impregnated anode. The microstructure images of the impregnated anodes at different times during stability testing demonstrate that the grain growth of catalysts, the interaction between the anode backbone and infiltrates, and the spalling of the agglomerated catalysts are the main reasons for the performance degradation. Fourth, the YSZ-LSCT[sub](A-) composites including the YSZ contents of 5-80wt.% were investigated to determine the percolation threshold concentration of YSZ to achieve electronic and ionic conducting pathways when using the composite as SOFC anode backbone. The microstructure and dilatometric curves show that when the YSZ content is below 30%, the milled sample has a lower shrinkage than the unmilled one due to the blocking effect from the well distributed YSZ grains within LSCT[sub](A-) bulk. However, at the YSZ above 30% where two phases start to form the individual and interconnected bulk, the composites without ball milling process show a lower densification. The impact of YSZ concentration and ball milling process on the electrical properties of the composites reveals that the percolation threshold concentration is not only dependant on the actual concentration, but also related to the local arrangement of two phases. In Napier University, the electroless nickel-ceramic co-depositon process was investigated as a manufacturing technique for the anodes of planar SOFCs, which entails reduced costs and reduced high-temperature induced defects, compared with conventional fabrication techniques. The Ni-YSZ anodes prepared by the electroless co-deposition technique without the addition of surfactant adhere well to the YSZ electrolyte before and after testing at 800°C in humidified hydrogen. Ni-YSZ anodes co-deposited with pore-forming starch showed twice the maximum power density compared with those without the starch. It has therefore been demonstrated that a porous Ni-YSZ cermet structure was successfully manufactured by means of an electroless plating technique incorporating pore formers followed by firing at 450°C in air. Although the use of surfactant (CTAB) increases the plating thickness, it induces the formation of a Ni-rich layer on the electrolyte/anode interface, leading to the delamination of anode most likely due to the mismatched TECs with the adjacent YSZ electrolyte.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy