Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Cathode Enhancement Through a Vacuum-Assisted Infiltration Technique

Period of Performance: 01/01/2012 - 12/31/2012

$1MM

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Materials & Systems Research, Inc.
5395 West 700 South Array
Salt Lake City, UT 84104
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Abstract

SOFC technology promises to provide an efficient method by which electricity can be generated from coal-derived syngas, biofuels, and natural gas, while increasing energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The large capital costs attributed to the cathode low performance and long-term stability issues are a current limitation of SOFC technologies that must be addressed before commercial SOFC power generation can be realized. The typical SOFC composite cathode possesses excellent performance characteristics but is subject to chemical stability issues during manufacturing and power generation operation at elevated temperatures. The proposed work aims to develop a vacuum-assisted infiltration technique to improve SOFC cathode performance and longevity through the impregnation of an inexpensive electrocatalyst precursor(s) into a cathode backbone. The vacuum-assisted infiltration apparatus and the infiltration protocol were developed and validated on both button cells and short stacks having 100 cm2 per-cell active areas. Catalyst distribution and morphology were investigated via the advanced X-ray diffraction and radiographic techniques. Phase II efforts will be built-on the results of Phase I and improve the vacuum-assisted infiltration process and protocol. Proof-of-concept demonstration of the SOFC cathode performance improvement will be performed on a bench scale kW-class stack. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The proposed technique will lead to the development of a viable solution to improve SOFC performance and longevity at a cost-effective manner. Some noteworthy benefits of the proposed technique are: (1) the technique readily scale to implementation in mass production operations; (2) enables SOFC technology fast market adoption and penetration via capital cost reduction; (3) reduces the green-house- gas emission and (4) US dependence on foreign energy imports through the large scale implementation of the improved SOFC technology