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Direct-Write Fabrication of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells
Keywords: Solid Oxide Fuel Cell, Micro Fuel Cell Fabrication, Materials Optimization for Direct-Write
There is an expanding list of reasons to develop high efficiency alternatives to conventional sources of power, namely combustion of fossil fuels. One such technology is the solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC), which utilizes an ion-conducting solid-state electrolyte to transport charged species between electrodes. SOFCs that operate at intermediate temperatures (500 ~ 750 C) have many benefits over conventional high temperature SOFCs, including lower component costs, longer service life, more conventional sealing methods, and more stable performance. Even lower operating temperatures and wider application ranges are possible with micro fuel cells. While several techniques can be used to reach this end, a direct-write tool (3Dn 450 HP/nScrypt, Inc.) has been obtained to give greater flexibility in design parameters including macro- and micro-geometries of stack components. As this is a novel technique for development of such devices, a proof-of-concept approach will at first be undertaken. Each cell component has different requirements; for example, the electrodes require a high degree of porosity while the electrolyte should be fully dense. In addition, proper dispensing properties must be achieved, and the final sintered part must be free of macro dry cracking as well as micro cracking. The inks/pastes used in fabrication should thus be optimized according to particle loading and organics content in order to control viscosity (in terms of shear thickening/thinning), as dispersant (in terms of agglomeration), and binder systems (in terms of cracking). Once this has been resolved, a single button cell of standard geometry will be fabricated from the ground up, and tested. After a satisfactory degree of performance has been obtained, miniaturization will proceed, with the goal of fabricating an array of micro fuel cells on a metal support. Results will be discussed in terms of cell performance (for the button cell) as well as component microstructure.
Matthew Camaratta, Post-Doc
University of Florida - Florida Institute for Sustainable Energy
Gainesville, FL

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