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Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) generate electricity by oxidizing hydrocarbon fuels at high temperatures. Most SOFCs have anodes made from cermets (ceramic-metal composites), usually mixtures of nickel and ceramics such as yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ). However, these anodes perform poorly with fuels that contain sulfur, such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. Other metallic anodes have poor thermal stability or do not tolerate oxidation well. Anodes with improved performance would make it easier to use SOFCs with commonly-available commercial fuels.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed high-performance SOFC ceramic anodes with improved electrocatalytic activity and redox stability for use with hydrocarbon fuels. These anodes provide high fuel efficiency and high cell power density at operating temperatures less than 800C. This design features a thin functional layer and a thick conduction layer, allowing materials in each layer to be optimized independently. This produces a thermally stable and redox-stable anode due to the low metal content, compatible with sulfur-containing fuels.
Stage of Development:
US Patent 8,021,799
Gross et al. (2007). A strategy for achieving high performance with SOFC ceramic anodes. Electrochemical and solid-state letters. http://esl.ecsdl.org/content/10/4/B65.full
Docket # T4325