Fuel Cells Operating Directly on Ethanol
(Phys.org) — Researchers at the Center for Energy Research at UC San Diego recently demonstrated the best performance for solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) operating directly on ethanol without external reformation. The work was performed by Dr. Nguyen Minh of the Center for Energy Research, postdoctoral scholar Dr. Eric Armstrong (now with Intel) and UC San Diego undergraduate student intern Jae-Woo Park.
A peak power density of more than 400 mW/cm2 was achieved at 800°C with air and a fuel containing 7.3 volume percent ethanol. This power density is about four times higher than any other SOFC reported in the literature operating directly on ethanol at 20 volume percent or lower at the same temperature
The SOFC is an all-solid-state fuel cell consisting of an ionic conducting oxide electrolyte sandwiched between two electrodes, the cathode or oxygen electrode where oxygen (from air) is reduced and the anode or fuel electrode where hydrogen (from the fuel) is oxidized.
This type of fuel cell operates in the temperature range of 600°-1000°C. At present, the most common SOFC materials are yttria stabilized zirconia (YSZ) (an oxygen ion conductor) for the electrolyte, strontium-doped lanthanum manganite perovskite oxide (LSM) for the cathode and nickel/YSZ composite for the anode. The attractive feature of the SOFC is its clean and efficient generation of electricity from a variety of fuels. Suitable fuels for the SOFC include hydrogen, natural gas, biogas, propane, gasoline, diesel, coal gas, and other practical fuels. The SOFC has been considered and developed for a broad spectrum of power generation applications, ranging from watt-size portable devices to multi-megawatt baseload power plants. READ MORE and MORE (University of California San Diego)