IDEAL Cell: Progress beyond the state of the art

During the implementation of the project, new innovative ideas emerged, inspirited by the knowledge, information, and expertise gathered through the IDEAL-Cell consortium multidisciplinary collaborative research. These innovations led to a significant technological improvement of the dual cell design, as well as to deeper understanding of the phenomena and mechanisms that stand behind the concept. The maximum power (Pmax) density which has been reached for two years in the frames of this project (132mV/cm2 at 800°C) is comparable to PCFCs achievements, behind which stay 25 years of technological history and numerous research groups and companies.

Monolitic Design

Monolithic DesignThe “Monolithic” cell is an important step towards simplifying the dual membrane cell for industrial production. It is based on the high mixed (protonic and oxide ion) conductivity of the proton conductor (BCY15) registered in the frames of the project. Thus, a single material cell was successfully developed and tested. This patented design increases the cell power density, simplifies the shaping and eliminates some of the difficulties typical for the assembly of functional layers from different materials.

Zebra Design

The patented “Zebra” modification of the monolithic design aims at a further increase of the power density, eliminating the oxide ion conducting layer and introducing strip geometry to the cathode, which improves the evacuation of the water produced in the central membrane.

Metallic Central Membrane Design

The “Metallic central membrane” design (patent pending) replaces entirely the ceramic porous layer with a metallic one, which catalyzes water formation and increases the efficiency of water evacuation.

Electrolyzer Mode

Enhanced performance of the dual cell as an electrolyzer opens up new opportunities for development of a reversible approach, in which the device operates as an energy conversion/storage device. A dual membrane cell with an entirely hydrophilic surface of the central membrane pores can be forced to work periodically as fuel cell and as electrolyzer, changing the operation mode. Under cathodic current the cell works as fuel cell, filling the pores of the central membrane with the produced water. Under anodic current, the water from the pores splits to hydrogen and oxide ions, propagating respectively through the hydrogen and oxygen compartments. The dual membrane fuel cell exhibits good reversibility without application of a special catalyst or water vapour pressure for enhancement of the water splitting. The electrolyser mode of operation is characterized with lower overvoltage and thus with lower internal resistance.

New water behavior

Registration of a new water behavior phenomenon: applying a set of newly introduced and sophisticated techniques, the formation of self-organized polarizable semi-liquid film at the hydrophilic proton conducting surface of the pores was registered. This phenomenon facilitates the formation of the water-based species and thus improves the performance of the dual cell design.

Technical Innovations

Real Life TesterReal Life Tester: The three chambered dmFC needs three independent compartments for introduction of operating conditions which will further improve its performance. During the implementation of the project an innovative experimental setup design, named Real life tester (RLT) was developed. It can be used for testing fuel cell (classical SOFC, PCFC and dual membrane) and interconnect samples in real life conditions - temperature, pressure, and current flow (for interconnects). The RLT has three independent chambers, which on one hand can test the innovative fuel cell design, and on the other hand open the unique possibility to simultaneously test interconnects exposed to a dual atmosphere (Patentable Invention).

DC Power Supply FurnaceD.C. power supply furnace: An innovative DC power supply furnace (sensitivity of the temperature measurement 0.01°C) with specialized sample rig and front-end adaptor/software was designed and constructed. Its application improves the quality of the impedance testing, eliminating the production of erroneous data at frequencies near to the power supply frequency, as well as to its harmonics – 50, 100, 150, 250 Hz and ensures measurements down to 0.001 Hz.

3-Compartment Set-UpDesign and integration of a dual cell stack with three chambers: The Dual cell concept exhibits its promising advantages once the single cell or the stack is mounted in a three chambered set-up. In order to achieve the best operating conditions for this concept, a three chambered testing system, was conceptualized and constructed (Patentable Invention).

Innovative technology for plasma spraying: An innovative approach - solution precursor plasma spraying, is developed. This development was motivated by the requirements towards the central membrane which could not be fulfilled by air plasma spraying of agglomerated material.


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