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Application of Ceramic Technology for Cost Effective Manufacturing of Small Fuel Cell Systems
Keywords: Fuel Cell , Ceramic Technology, Fuel Cell Micro Systems
After many years of intense research and development, both the ceramic solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) and polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) micro fuel cell systems are now close to commercialization. This is due to significant technical progress in long term reliability and cost reduction over the whole value chain from materials up to the manufacturing process. In this study we focus on SOFC units in the 1kW power range for decentralized generation and on PEM micro-systems for battery supplement applications in the 1 W regime. When operated with conventional or sustainable hydrocarbon fuels SOFC systems offer a lower overall system complexity in comparison to other fuel cell types. Therefore, SOFC systems have high market potential as auxiliary power units (APU) for mobile applications in trucks, recreational vehicles or cars. Another promising field is combined heat and power (CHP) generation for residential and commercial buildings or as units for power generation from sustainable bio-fuels. On the other hand, PEM micro fuel cell systems cover the promising market of battery complements or battery chargers for hand held devices such as PDA. For the manufacturing of both fuel cell types we use ceramic micro system technology platforms such as thick film, hybrid and multilayer ceramic technology. For example, the electrochemical active SOFC components, i.e. the membrane electrode assemblies (MEA) are produced by tape casting of the solid electrolyte with subsequent screen printing of the electrodes. With these electrolyte supported cells power densities between 0,2W 0,4 W/cm2 can be achieved. The cathode contact layers are deposited by thick film (paste) technology and even the glass sealing components for SOFC stack manufacturing are produced by tape casting. Furthermore we present first results on fully functional PEM micro fuel cell systems employing low temperature cofired ceramic (LTCC) technology as the manufacturing process.
Alexander Michaelis, Professor
Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems
Dresden, Saxony 01277,

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