Effect of Operating Conditions on the Electrochemical Performance of Ni-YSZ Cermet Anode for Solid Oxide Fuel Cells Using Octane Fuel

Tuesday, 7 October 2014
Expo Center, 1st Floor, Center and Right Foyers (Moon Palace Resort)
D. Yamamoto (Tokai University), K. Tomomichi (The University of Tokyo), S. Yamagami, Y. Yamada, M. Kinoshita, M. Yoshinaga, and K. Sasaki (Tokai University)

For many potential mobile robot applications, current power supply technology (such as the lithium ion battery technology) is in fact a key limiting factor due to its low energy density. Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) are a promising alternative and can overcome limitations of current battery technology. This is because SOFCs can, in principle, use not only hydrogen but also hydrocarbon fuels which have high energy density such as gasoline and so on.

Ni-YSZ cermet is the most promising anode material for SOFCs because of its low cost, chemical stability, and closely matched thermalexpansion coefficients with the dense YSZ electrolyte. Ni is an excellent catalyst for hydrocarbon fuel reforming and cracking, which leads to rapid carbon deposition inside the SOFC anode and causes coking and deactivation1). In principle, the carbon deposition on Ni can be depressed by adding steam in the hydrocarbon fuel2,3), whereas few detailed investigations of SOFCs that operate on gasoline fuel have been reported.

In this work, we studied the effect of steam content and demonstrated the direct operation of SOFCs by octane which is a main ingredient of gasoline. In the case of the Ni-YSZ anode, the operation temperature must be high in order to avoid sulfur poisoning4-6), because most commercially available fuels contain sulfur. Therefore, in this study, the SOFCs operation was conducted at high temperature of 950 oC.


Surface-polished YSZ pellets of 2 mm in thickness were used for the electrolyte. Pt cathode electrode and Pt reference electrode were prepared on the surface and side of the pellets, respectively, by firing Pt paste at 1300 oC. Then, NiO powder and GDC powder (NiO/YSZ=6/4 (wt)) were thoroughly mixed in a vacuum using the planetary ball mill (200 rpm, 12 h), and made into NiO-YSZ pastes using ethyl-cellulose and organic solvent. The NiO-YSZ paste was screen-printed in diameter of 8 mm on the YSZ pellets and sintered at 1200 oC for 1 h.

Octane and steam were supplied to the SOFC cell by bubbling carrier gas (He) at a constant rate. Octane bubbler temperature was 30 oC, and Steam/Carbon ratio (S/C) were controlled by changing the temperature of the water bubbler from 40 to 70 oC. Electrochemical properties (open circuit voltage, anode electrode resistance, I-V and I-P characteristics, stable power generation property) were measured over a temperature range of 950-700 oC. During the constant current generation, exhaust gas was analyzed by gas chromatography.

 Results and Discussion

Figure 1 shows I-V and I-P characteristics for the cells at 950 oC in wet octane. Maximum power density of 35 mW/cm2 was obtained by S/C of 8.9.  The power density decreased with S/C quickly.

Figure 2 shows the time course of cell voltage at a drawn current density of 5.2 mA/cm2 for S/C of 3.5. The cell voltage was stable. That is, carbon deposit does not arise even in the cell of the Ni-YSZ anode in low S/C of 3.5 when the operation temperature is high of 950 oC.


1)       S. Mclntosh and R.J. Gorte, “Direct Hydrocarbon Solid Oxide Fuel Cells,” Chemical Reviews, 104 (2004) 4845- 4865.

2)       K. Sasaki and Y. Teraoka, “Equilibria in Fuel Cell Gases: I. Equilibrium Compositions and Reforming Conditions,” Journal of Electrochemical Society, 850 (7) (2003) A878-A884.

3)       K. Sasaki and Y. Teraoka, “Equilibria in Fuel Cell Gases: II. The C-H-O Ternary Diagrams,” Journal of Electrochemical Society, 850 (7) (2003) A885-A888.

4)       K. Sasaki, K. Susuki, A. Iyoshi, M. Uchimura, N. Imamura, H. Kusaba, Y. Teraoka, H. Fuchino, K. Tsujimoto, Y. Uchida, N. Jingo, “H2S Poisoning of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells,” J. Electrochem. Soc., 153 (2006) A2023–A2029.

5)       P. Lohsoontorn, D.J.L. Brett, N.P. Brandon, “Thermodynamic predictions of the impact of fuel composition on the propensity of sulphur to interact with Ni and ceria-based anodes for solid oxide fuel cells,” Journal of Power Sources, 175 (2008) 60–67.

6)       H. Kishimoto, Y-P Xiong, K. Yamaji, T. Horita, N. Sakai, M.E. Brito, H. Yokokawa, “Stability of Ni base anode for direct hydrocarbon SOFCs, ” Journal Chemical Engineering of Japan, 40 (13) (2007) 1178-1182.