Optical Studies of Dry and Wet Reformed Methane on Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Anodes

Thursday, 28 May 2015: 08:40
Continental Room A (Hilton Chicago)
S. N. Qadri (U.S. Naval Research Laboratory), J. D. Kirtley (Montana State University), D. A. Steinhurst (Nova Research, Inc.), R. A. Walker (Montana State University), M. B. Pomfret (Lab/Cor Materials), and J. C. Owrutsky (U.S. Naval Research Laboratory)
The presently limited understanding of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) anode mechanisms is due to a lack of experimental techniques that can probe species and component materials directly during operation, or in operando. Previous investigations on the efficiency of Ni-YSZ-based electrode materials in different reforming conditions have been performed using post-mortem and in situ electrochemical analyses with little information on specific mechanisms that lead to fuel oxidation and cell degradation. An ensemble of non-invasive optical methods consisting of near infrared thermal imaging (NIRTI), Raman spectroscopy, and Fourier-transform infrared emission spectroscopy (FTIRES) is utilized to correlate the chemistry of fuel oxidation and carbon formation with traditional electrochemical measurements for methane and simulated biogas fuels in operating SOFCs.

Different reforming conditions for methane including plain, wet (steam), and dry (carbon dioxide) are investigated on anode- and electrolyte-supported cells. NIRTI results demonstrate that cooling on the anode surface due to endothermic hydrocarbon cracking for dry reforming or simulated biogas is significantly greater than for unreformed methane on both types of cells. Raman and FTIRES both show that more carbon is deposited with methane than with biogas. The small amount of carbon formed is limited to lower temperatures with simulated biogas whereas carbon formation occurs to a great extent at all temperatures with methane. Exhaust gas analysis with ex situ FTIR absorption measurements and mass spectrometry are combined with in operando measurements to further characterize and quantify the species involved. These findings serve as benchmark data for a better understanding of the mechanisms responsible for performance and degradation of SOFCs.