A Simple Pressurized SOFC Test Rig for Measurements of Cell Performance, Impedance, and Various Overvoltages
The testing platform has several parts, from inside out including a specially thread-designed housing carrier for the full/half button cell, a serpentine heating pipe system for uniform heating of the supplied fuel and air gases, a temperature-controlled furnace, and a large high-pressure vessel together with measuring devices and their associates. Hence, current-voltage curves and AC impedance spectra of any full/half button cells can be measured. In this study, we present power-generating characteristics and EIS data of an anode-supported full button cell over wide ranges of pressure (p = 1~5 atm) and temperature (T = 700~850 oC). We apply constant gas flow rates, 200ml min-1 H2 in anode and 200ml min-1 air in cathode, for all experimental events.
Results show that, for any given values of T or p, power densities increase with increasing p or T at any fixed current densities. Such enhancement on power densities is more sensitive to the increase of T than to the increase of p. These results are explained by the corresponding EIS data. The latter shows that both high and low frequency arcs of impedance spectra decrease with increasing p, resulting in a reduction of the total polarization resistance. Specifically, the high frequency arcs decrease rather weakly with increasing p as compared to that of the low frequency arcs. Further, we found that the characteristic frequencies of high and low frequency arcs occur around 100 ~ 1000 Hz and at about 10 Hz, respectively. The former may be attributed to the cathode activation polarization and the latter may be due to the diffusion processes in the anode electrode. Hence, pressurization can simultaneously decrease the cathode activation polarization and the anodic diffusion concentration polarization.
In addition to the aforesaid power-generating characteristics and EIS results, this study reports analyses of activation and concentration overvoltages using the Butler-Volmer equation and the related concentration overvoltage equation based on a 1D diffusion model. We found that both activation and concentration overvoltages decrease with increasing p. Two important parameters, the exchange current density and the anodic effective diffusion coefficient, are also calculated by applying the present measured data. Results show that pressurization enhances the exchange current density leading to an increase of the electrochemical reaction rate. Though pressurization reduces slightly the anodic effective diffusion coefficient, it can increase the molar concentration and thus the overall gas-phase diffusion rate in porous electrode. These overvoltage results will be compared with previous numerical and experimental data to enhance our understanding of the effect of pressurization on the polarization mechanisms in SOFCs.