Reaction Mechanism and Rate-Determining Step Speculation of Reversible CO/CO2 Electrochemical Conversion on the Nickel Patterned Electrodes

Thursday, 27 July 2017: 08:20
Grand Ballroom West (The Diplomat Beach Resort)
Y. Luo (Department of Thermal Engineering, Tsinghua University), W. Li (Department of Thermal Engineering, Tsinghua University, Sichuan Energy Internet Research Institute, THU), Y. Shi, and N. Cai (Department of Thermal Engineering, Tsinghua University)
The nickel(Ni)-patterned electrode enables researchers to quantify the triple-phase boundary (TPB) length and Ni surface area, exclude the influence of bulk gas diffusion and clearly separate the active regions of the chemical/electrochemical reactions. This tool has been studied for identifying the reaction mechanism in SOFC but rarely in SOEC. In this study, the Ni-patterned electrodes with the stripe width of 100 μm were tested in both the solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) and solid oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC) modes at the atmosphere of H2O/H2 and further H2O/CO2/H2/CO. The experimental test shows the stability of the Ni-patterned electrode in the H2O/H2 atmosphere was much poorer than that in the CO/CO2 atmosphere due to the nickel reacting with steam. Thus, the Ni-patterned electrode needed to operate at a temperature of ≤700oC with the inlet H2/H2O molar ratio of >7 and the current-applied time shouldn’t be over 5 h to keep the accuracy of the TPB length and Ni surface area. The effects of the temperature, partial pressure of H2O and H2 are investigated. The activation energy of the Ni-patterned electrodes was 0.386 eV. The electrochemical performance had a positive correlation with both the partial pressure of H2 and H2O, especially showed higher sensitivity to the partial pressure of H2O. Further, a possible mechanism of the H2O/H2 electrochemical conversion was proposed according to the experimental data and existing literature, which contains two-step charge-transfer reaction: H(Ni)+O2-(YSZ)OH-(YSZ)+(Ni)+e- and H(Ni)+OH-(YSZ)H2O(YSZ)+(Ni)+e-. Based on the experiments, an analytical calculation was performed to investigate the rate-determining steps in the Ni-patterned electrodes by bridging the connection between the kinetic parameters and operating conditions. The results indicate the rate-limiting steps may be different for the SOFC and SOEC modes. In SOFC mode, the H2 electrochemical oxidation could depend more on the charge-transfer reaction H(Ni)+O2-(YSZ)→OH-(YSZ)+(Ni)+e-, however in SOEC mode, the rate-determining step of the H2O electrochemical reduction should be H2O(YSZ)+(Ni)+e-→OH-(YSZ)+H(Ni). In this way, a reversible mechanism could be applied for reversible SOFC (RSOFC) to describe the conversion between hydrogen and steam by different charge-transfer-reaction domination in the SOFC and SOEC mode.