Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Micro-SOLUTION (Micro-Solid Oxide Fuel Cells based on highly catalytic ceramic oxide thin films nanostructures)
Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2017-06-30
- Designing novel strategies for the incorporation of catalytically active materials in thin films deposited electrodes able to operate at high temperatures.
- In-depth characterization of the new engineered materials in order to make a rational selection.
- Integration of the novel engineered materials in real micro-SOFC systems.
Within Micro-SOLUTION we have successfully developed high-throughput methodologies that allow easy and fast preparation and characterization of materials, enabling the smart selection of optimum electrodes with complex composition. Moreover, highly active fuel electrodes have been prepared by infiltration employing techniques compatible with microfabrication processes which will help to their industrial application. Integration of the new engineered materials is being achieved and performance measurements will be carried out. In conclusion, all the major objectives of the action are almost attained. Benefits of this work will be shown in upcoming publications and/or patents.
Regarding the anode, within the project deposition of SDC ceramic thin films with optimised morphology on YSZ substrates was accomplished. Previously, an initial optimisation of PLD parameters was carried out, followed by morphological and structural as well as electrochemical characterisation. Then, incorporation of catalytically active materials have been tested by different methodologies, i.e. wet impregnation and atomic layer deposition (ALD), being successful the latter. By using ALD, a precise control of the layer thickness is achieved, avoiding agglomerations of material and getting the desired full coverage thanks to the layer-by-layer deposition. It is worth mentioning that ALD is a process that would allow the easy integration of the infiltration stage in the fabrication flow of the micro-SOFCs. An additional output of the utilisation of this technique is the possibility of the preparation of composites by ALD with unusual homogeneity which of great interest for SOFC and many other fields.
Subsequently, deposition of YSZ electrolyte by ALD was studied. Several precursors as well as diverse deposition parameters were tested. After fabricating each thin film, characterisation of its crystalline structure, morphology and composition was accomplished. According to prior experience, microfabrication of µSOFC platforms was carried out. In this regard, modification of microfabrication processes was made and new designs implemented allowed us to increase the survival rate close to 100%.
At this moment integration of new engineered electrodes into the μSOFC platforms is being carried out. Then, power output measurements will be done.
The work carried out has been presented in several internationally recognised scientific conferences (e.g. MRS, SSI, SOFC&SOE Forum,...) as well as in internal technical meetings. The scientific quality of the results is high, as it can be extracted from the prize received (Christian Friedrich Schönbein Bronze medal) in the Solid Oxide Fuel Cell and Electrolyser Forum in 2016.
Regarding the commercial exploitation of research results, two different incubator/acceleration programs were attended where commercialization of the technology employed in Micro-SOLUTION was studied, being well acknowledged.
In the anode side, the utilisation of atomic layer deposition (ALD) for the infiltration of active components in a porous matrix is a novelty as well. ALD provides precise control on the morphology of the deposited layer and the amount of material added. Additionally, ALD is a common technique in microfabrication processes and can be easily integrated in a fabrication flow. This approach opens the possibility to the ALD fabrication of composites applicable as SOFC electrodes.
These two technological advances together with the improvements accomplished in the microfabrication processes anticipate a great impact in the results obtained within Micro-SOLUTION project.