Dual Membrane Fuel Cell: From Powder to the Testing of a Two-Cells Short-Stack

Tuesday, 25 July 2017
Grand Ballroom East (The Diplomat Beach Resort)
A. P. Abellard, A. Chesnaud (MAT-Centre des Matériaux, CNRS UMR 7633, Mines-ParisTech, PSL Research University), P. Piccardo (University of Genoa, Dipartimento di Chimica e Chimica Industriale (DCCI)), R. Spotorno (Universita degli Studi di Genova, Dipartimento di Chimica e Chimica Industriale (DCCI)), D. Vladikova, Z. Stoynov, B. Burdin (Institute of Electrochemistry and Energy Systems, BAS), and A. Thorel (Mines-ParisTech, PSL Research University, MAT-Centre des Matériaux, CNRS UMR 7633)
A new concept of a high temperature fuel cell based on a porous dual-conducting (H+ and O2-) central membrane was successfully developed as part of a European project (“IDEAL-Cell”, FET-Energy/FP7, 2008-2011). This additional layer ensures the connectivity between both SOFC cathode/electrolyte and PCFC electrolyte/anode “water-free” compartments so that the system operates with three independent chambers. During the development of this concept, it was discovered that BCY15, used so far as a protonic conductor, exhibited a very significant anion conduction at operating temperature under oxygen atmosphere, opening up the route for a simplified and more efficient configuration; since then, BCY15 is used in all the constituent layers to lead to the so-called monolithic concept. Therefore the porous dual-conducting central membrane is made of a single BCY15 phase instead of a composite mixture of a proton conductor (i.e. BCY15) and an anion conductor (i.e. YDC15). This CM is thus sandwiched between 2 BCY15 electrolytes with a BCY15 + Ni anode on one side and a LSCF48 + BCY15 cathode on the other side. Recent works proved that electrical performances of the monolithic configuration at 600°C are higher than those measured for standard SOFCs and PCFCs at equivalent geometry.

The present work aims at presenting the first results of the manufacturing and electrochemical testing of a two-cells short stack specifically designed with 3 independent chambers in which central membrane (CM) supported monolithic cells are integrated. The supported-CMs were fabricated by using BCY15 and a polymer PMMA as a pore former agent. The CMs were sintered at 1400°C for 5 hours under static air leading to a porosity content of around 50 ± 3 vol. %. The electrolytes were then deposited onto the CMs by tape casting from an ethanol-based suspension containing BCY15 and 1 wt. % of ZnO, and were sintered at 1350°C for 3 hours. Anode ink containing 60 vol. % BCY15, 40 vol. % NiO and 10 wt. % of graphite was deposited on one electrolyte and sintered at 1350°C for 3 hours. Cathode ink containing 50 vol. % BCY15, 50 vol. % LSCF48 and 10 wt. % of graphite was deposited on the other electrolyte and sintered at 1100°C for 3 hours to avoid delamination and creeping. This processing sequence leads to flat cells having a total thickness lower than 1 mm. 2 cells were integrated in a specifically designed short stack made of INOX 440C, and sealed with Thermoculite 866 LS. The electrochemical performances of the short-stack have been measured in real operating conditions via a dedicated 3-chamber set-up named Real Life Tester (RLT), and compared to those of single cells operated under the same conditions. Results are discussed in terms of cells geometry and microstructure, and stack design improvements are proposed.