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Researcher makes progress in fuel cells

Ana Martinex Amesti studies solid oxide fuel cells in her doctoral thesis for the University of the Basque Country.

A University of the Basque Country researcher claimed to have made progress in optimizing solid oxide fuel cells by studying the materials used in their construction to improve electrochemical response.

In her doctoral thesis, Ana Martinez Amesti said the introduction of an interlayer between the cathode and the electrolyte components of the fuel cell enhances the conducting properties of all the cathodes.

Solid oxide fuel cells have two outstanding characteristics: their electrodes and the electrolyte are solid and they have high versatility in the choice of fuels and oxidants due to high operational temperatures.

Conversely, solid oxide fuel cells have two major problems. Manufacturing tends to be difficult as the ceramic materials of which they are made require high temperatures for processing. Also, the solid electrolyte is easily degraded at the cell’s working temperature.

To ensure economically viable marketing of solid oxide fuel cells, operating temperature must be reduced. In this case, one of the requisites is having mixed conducting materials that can be used as cathodes at operating temperatures of between 550 °C and 800 °C.

Ms. Martinez studied the problem of mixed conducting materials in solid oxide fuel cells which tend to react on occasion with the electrolyte and diminish the power of the cathodes.

She proposed including an interlayer between the material employed as a cathode and the electrolyte. This reduced the solid state reactions taking place and improved the electrochemical response of the system.

Ms. Martinez was supported by Ikerlan-Energy Technological Center while working on her thesis entitled “Solid Oxide Fuel Cells: Studies on Reactivity and Optimization of Cathode-Electrolyte Interlayer.”

-   Katrice R. Jalbuena

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