Study of Perovskite Structure Cathode Materials and Protective Coatings on Interconnect for Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

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Virginia Tech

Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) are promising devices to convert chemical energy to electrical energy due to their high efficiency, fuel flexibility, and low emissions. However, there are still some drawbacks hindering its wide application, such as high operative temperature, electrode degradation, chromium poisoning, oxidization of interconnect, and so on.

Cathode plays a major role in determining the electrochemical performance of a single cell. In this dissertation, three perovskite cathode materials, La0.6Sr0.4Co0.2Fe0.8O3 (LSCF), Ba0.5Sr0.5Co0.2Fe0.8O3 (BSCF), and Sm0.5Sr0.5Co0.2Fe0.8O3 (SSCF), are comparatively studied through half-cells in the temperature range of 600-800 ºC. Sm0.2Ce0.8O1.9 (SDC) block layer on the yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) electrolyte can lead to smaller polarization resistances of the three cathode materials through stopping the reaction between the cathodes and the YSZ electrolyte. SDC is also used as a catalyst to increase the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) rate in the LSCF cathode.

In addition, interconnect is protected by CoxFe1-x oxide and Co3O4/SDC/Co3O4 tri-layer coatings separately. These coatings are demonstrated to be effective in decreasing the area specific resistance (ASR) of the interconnect, inhibiting the Cr diffusion/evaporation, leading higher electrochemical performance of the SSCF-based half-cell. Only 1.54 at% of Cr is detected on the surface of the SSCF cathode with the Co0.8Fe0.2 oxide coated interconnect and no Cr is detected with the Co3O4/SDC/Co3O4 tri-layer coated interconnect.

Finally, single cells with LSCF, BSCF, and SSCF as the cathodes are operated in the temperature range of 600-800 °C fueled by natural gas. BSCF has the highest power density of 39 mW cm-2 at 600 °C, 88 mW cm-2 at 650 °C, and 168 mW cm-2 at 700 °C; LSCF has the highest power density of 263 mW cm-2 at 750 °C and 456 mW cm-2 at 800 °C. Activation energies calculated from the cathode ASR are 0.44 eV, 0.38 eV, and 0.52 eV for the LSCF, BSCF, and SSCF cathodes respectively, which means the BSCF cathode is preferred. The stability test shows that the BSCF-based single cell is more stable at lower operative temperature (600 °C) while the LSCF-based single cell is more stable at higher operative temperature (800 °C).

Solid Oxide Fuel Cell, Perovskite, Chromium Poisoning, Protective Coating, Single cell