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High efficiency energy

Scheme of a solid-oxide fuel cell Scheme of a solid-oxide fuel cell

Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) are highly efficient devices that convert chemical energy directly to electricity.
Despite their superior performance compared to other types of fuel cells, SOFCs are not yet commercially viable because problems of material degradation make their operating lives too short for widespread use.
SOFC cells are very complex and contain materials that, at typical operating temperatures of 700°C to 1000°C, generate numerous chemical reactions that are not yet fully understood. Since such reactions can affect the energy conversion process and ultimately jeopardise performance, they need to be investigated if cell efficiency is to be improved.


Elettra's contribution
High resolution photoelectron spectromicroscopy has been used at Elettra to study the chemical reactions that occur in SOFCs by simulating actual operating conditions, or, more precisely, the high temperature, the gaseous atmosphere and the flow of oxygen in the cell interior.
One of the more interesting results obtained to date has led to the identification and characterisation of the oxidation-reduction processes of manganese, one of the elements present in the electrodes of these cells.
ESCA Microscopy has proved to be a uniquely suitable tool for studying and following the evolution of chemical processes on a microscopic scale.


Facility: ESCA Microscopy Beamline
Photoelectron microscopy study of the surface chemistry of operatine LSM-YSZ SOFC cathodes; M. Backhaus-Ricoult, K. Adib, T. St. Clair, B. Luerssen, L. Gregoratti, A. Barinov, P. Dudin; in: N.P. Bansal (Ed.), Advances in Solid State Oxide Fuel Cells III, 28, Wiley Science, 2007.