Energy Materials: New Electrolytes and Cathodes for Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Chemistry


Meeting the future energy needs of the world's growing population is one of today's most significant scientific challenges. Different types of new, sustainable, efficient and environmentally benign energy generation and conversion have been the subject of intense research, including solar, nuclear, wind and geothermal energy. However, new efficient energy vectors are also required to limit losses, and solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology is extremely attractive for this purpose in the short-to-medium term, owing to its unique combination of high efficiency, fuel flexibility and environmental safety. Two factors have prevented wider commercialisation of SOFCs: system cost and reliability; both stem from the high operating temperatures of the current technology. Lowering the operating temperatures to the so-called intermediate (IT, 450-650oC) and low-temperature (LT, down to 350oC) regions is therefore a major driver in SOFC research.

In this project we will prepare and characterise novel materials with high oxide ion and mixed oxide ion - electronic conductivities, needed for applications as electrolytes and cathodes, respectively, in intermediate- and low-temperature solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) operating between 350 and 600oC.
This is an exciting programme of research on highly topical functional materials. It spans experiment and theory, and crucially relies on the neutron-based techniques. It also represents an ambitious combination of depth and breadth encompassing materials design, atomic-level understanding of the structure, dynamics and the fundamental properties, as well as fabrication and testing in device-ready forms.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R513039/1 30/09/2018 29/09/2023
2276888 Studentship EP/R513039/1 30/09/2019 31/12/2022 Bettina Schwaighofer