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Ceramic Modules for Micro Solid-Oxide Fuel Cells (µ-SOFCs)
Keywords: microfabrication processes, µ-SOFCs, LTCC
Micro solid oxide fuel cells (µ-SOFCs) based on microfabrication processes are a promising alternative to batteries for supplying portable electronics, as very high energy densities may be achieved. However, a µ-SOFC module is quite complex, comprising 1) a gas processing unit (GPU) to process a convenient energy source such as lighter gas into a more usable form, 2) the energy-generating cells proper, and 3) a post-combustor. The mechanical integration of these elements and their fluidic and electrical interconnection into a single module is a very challenging task for micro-scale integration. Therefore, a modular low-temperature co-fired ceramic (LTCC) package is proposed, allowing individual testing and subsequent full integration of the different cell elements. The package functions as a hotplate, a mechanical support for the hot zone and as an electrical / fluidic interconnect, integrating slender bridges to minimise thermal conduction losses and thus allow convenient low-temperature electrical connections and fluidic ports. For applications requiring a better thermal expansion match to silicon / pyrex, a silicon / pyrex glass-sealant variant was also developed. The electrical / thermal characterisation of these packages is shown, demonstrating that the envisioned operating temperatures (500-550°C) may be conveniently achieved. Issues of reliably bonding and interconnecting the micro-fabricated silicon / glass active elements are also discussed. Finally, concepts for integrating the GPU and post-combustor into the LTCC structure are presented.
Dr. Thomas Maeder, Scientist
EPFL - Laboratoire de Production Microtechnique
Lausanne CH 1015,
SWITZERLAND


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