CORDIS - EU research results

Microtubular solid oxide fuel cells Finally In MicroScale

Project description

Tiny tubes support advances in clean energy from hydrocarbons

Solid oxide fuels cells (SOFCs) convert the chemical energy in hydrogen-rich fuels to electrical energy without the combustion process. They are an important ally in efforts to reduce emissions and mitigate global climate change. Both tubular and planar fuel cell stack geometries exist. Microtubular SOFCs pioneered in the 1990s have tubes on the scale of millimetres, making them more compact and lightweight and speeding start-up. To overcome current challenges, tube diameters must be reduced to less than a tenth of existing ones. The EU-funded FIMS project is developing innovative manufacturing methods and optical inspection techniques that will lead to the demonstration of a pilot microtubular SOFC stack that will make the grade.


A breakthrough in economically viable efficient energy conversion has been long waited, with fuel cell technology being a promising candidate. Recently, tubular Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) have received increased attention due to possibility to shorten start-up times, reduce material losses and lower costs of fuel cells. In order to reach sufficient volumetric power density, decrease working temperature and reduce costs, the diameter of the SOFC tubes has to be reduced at least an order of magnitude, compared to state of the art (at or above 1 mm). In the recent years, the hosting group of the project has demonstrated fabrication of yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) microtubes with diameters <100 µm and tested their viability for use as an electrolyte in microtubular SOFCs. The FIMS project is focused on innovative development of controllable YSZ microtube fabrication methods and subsequent use of the microtubes in construction of a SOFC stack to prove commercial potential. A method for fabrication of optical quality fluorescent microtubes with controlled dimensions (diameter <100 µm, wall thickness 5-10 µm) and facile structural defect detection with optical techniques will be realized. Porous electrode deposition on the microtubes will be refined and a microtubular electrolyte supported pilot SOFC stack will be constructed and characterized. The target of FIMS is to promote transfer of knowledge through training and career development of the Fellow in the multidisciplinary field of SOFC technology, in order to re-enforce professional maturity and independence of the Fellow. Two secondments – academic and industrial – further improve the training and collaboration network of a young scientist. The project will have positive impact on the Fellow's career progress towards becoming a leading researcher, and supports enhancement of environmental protection and sustainable resource use.


Net EU contribution
€ 154 193,28
51005 Tartu

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 154 193,28