Microstructural Characterization of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Anodes Operating on Hydrocarbon Fuels

Thursday, 5 October 2017: 09:00
National Harbor 7 (Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center)
I. Robinson (University of Maryland Energy Research Center), M. H. Abdul Jabbar (University of Maryland), Y. L. Huang, and E. D. Wachsman (University of Maryland Energy Research Center)
Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) are an interesting energy conversion device due to their fuel flexibility feature and high fuel conversion efficiency. Reducing the performance losses associated with fuel electrode is critical, especially when SOFCs are operated on hydrocarbon fuels. The fuel electrode in an SOFC has typically been a cermet of Ni-YSZ whose degradation mechanisms have been thoroughly studied. Recently, the focus of SOFC research has shifted towards a lower operating temperature range (400-650 oC) to achieve reliability and cost competitiveness among other energy conversion technologies. The use of a Ni-GDC cermet anode allows SOFCs to operate on hydrocarbon fuels at lower temperatures compared to (>800 oC) for Ni-YSZ. However, Ni-based anodes have several challenges that have to be resolved for efficient operation of SOFCs. Evaluating the microstructural changes such as coarsening and carbon formation when exposed to hydrocarbon fuels is essential to understand the underlying degradation mechanism and to overcome the issues. This study focuses on a) evaluating the chemical compatibility of Ni-GDC cermet anode when exposed to harsh operating conditions and b) to propose a possible degradation mechanism at low temperature ranges by carefully examining the microstructural changes on samples that are aged in hydrocarbon containing fuels.