This research has investigated the manufacturing technologies associated with the production of a new design of solid fuel cell.
A new design which uses a flat plate, rather than a tubular, geometry enables low cost, high volume ceramic processing technologies to be used (extrusion, screen printing, tape casting, etc). The support is the largest and most complex component in the design (typically 100 by 200 by 17 millimetres) and has been successfully extruded. The support's thermal expansion coefficient has been optimised to closely match that of the active cell.
Cell components have been obtained by tape casting and tape rolling techniques. These foils are strong (450 megapascals), gas tight, 150 um to 200 um thick, flat when sintered and relatively large (80 by 80 millimetres). Single active cells were successfully produced from these electrolyte foils by coating either side with the electrodes. These single cells were operated at 1000 C with a hydrogen air combination to produce electricity.
The Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) provides a new and exciting option for the conversion of fossil fuels, including natural gas, into electricity. It does this with higher efficiency and lower pollution (virtually no NOx) than conventional means. The SOFC has not been commercially successful yet because the fabrication costs for the existing designs and technologies are prohibitive. We have recently developed a new design which has the potential to solve the cost problem. The objective of this research is to develop the associated manufacturing technologies.
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