Redox-Stable High-Performance Thin-Film Solid Oxide Fuel Cell
In this work, a redox-stable SOFC with a thin-film sol-gel electrolyte is presented. Using tailored suspensions and polymeric sols of varying target particle size, a 1 µm thick, three layer sol-gel electrolyte is coated on top of a tape cast anode substrate and a screen printed anode by spin-coating and dip-coating techniques. With this sol-gel electrolyte a power output larger than 1.25 W/cm2 at 0.7 V and an operating temperature of 600 °C could be demonstrated. In this study, half cells (anode substrate, anode, and electrolyte) are reoxidized in excess air, in order to test the redox stability of these SOFCs. Afterwards the electrolyte is investigated ex situ using optical microscopy and SEM. No cracks are found in the sol-gel electrolyte after reoxidation for 4 hours at 600 °C and 15 minutes at 800 °C, respectively, whereas a lot of cracks are visible in a standard ASC with a 10 µm thick, screen printed electrolyte for both reoxidation conditions. This means the sol-gel electrolyte can tolerate higher degrees of oxidation (DoO) of the anode substrate than the screen printed electrolyte. The residual compressive stresses of both electrolytes are measured to about 600 MPa using XRD and are therefore not responsible for the higher stability against reoxidation of the sol-gel electrolyte. In contrast, the energy release rate has to be larger than a critical value for the creation of cracks in a thin-film on a thick substrate. Due to the fact, that the energy release rate is proportional to the thickness of the thin-film, a thinner film is more stable against cracking than a thicker film at constant tensile stresses. After reoxidation of 8 hours at 600 °C and 60 minutes at 800 °C, respectively, cracks are also found in the sol-gel electrolyte. However, the SOFC with the thin-film sol-gel electrolyte can be considered as stable against reoxidation, because the long reoxidation time of 4 hours at an operating temperature of 600 °C is unlikely to happen under real conditions.