Materials, Devices and Processes for Energy and Environmental Sustainability
Current Research Group
Research in Progress
Degrees Granted

Novel Continuous Co-firing Process for Fabrication of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells
(Funded by BTU International)
Prof. Uday B. Pal, Prof. Srikanth Gopalan, Prof. Soumendra Basu, and Dr. Peter Zink

Overview | Animation

View a PDF presentation about the Low Cost, Single-step, Co-firing Technique
for Manufacturing High Performance Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC)

The goal
here is to investigate the feasibility of a single-step firing process to co-sinter the entire SOFC structure and reduce the manufacturing cost by an order of magnitude compared to the existing processes.   View an animation of a SOFC.

The processes investigated for obtaining the layers of the SOFC components include tape casting and screen printing. The process parameters investigated here include particle size (nano to micrometer range), shape and their distribution, binder materials and their amounts, phase distribution in the electrodes, oxygen partial pressure, heat-up and cool-down profile, hold temperature and time. The range of process parameters for fabricating the individual SOFC components are determined, and a common range of parameters are identified to co-sinter all the layers of the single cell in one firing sequence.

The process is being optimized to (1) lower the processing time, (2) improve interfacial contact and lower interfacial resistance, (3) allow graded composite structures for the electrode to lower polarization as well as internal stresses, and (4) prevent warping in the structure. The aimed anode-supported SOFC structure consists of 10-40 Ám thick dense electrolyte, 50-150 Ám thick cathode, and 0.5-2 mm thick anode.

The objective is to synthesize single cells that have an operating life greater than 50,000 hours with less than 1% degradation in electrical performance and a power density greater than 2.0 W/cm2 at 800 C. In the next stage of the program, the process of making these cells will be automated and undergo scale-up to fabricate multiple cells.

Our industrial collaborator (BTU International) will fabricate and assemble fuel cell stacks by placing interconnects between the anode of one cell and the cathode of the adjacent cell. They will evaluate these stacks and determine the scale-up potential to manufacture at a cost not exceeding $500/kWe.