Insights Gained from Testing Alternate Cell Designs

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The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has been researching the application of solid-oxide electrolysis cell for large-scale hydrogen production from steam over a temperature range of 800 to 900ºC. The INL has been testing various solid oxide cell designs to characterize their electrolytic performance operating in the electrolysis mode for hydrogen production. Some results presented in this report were obtained from cells, initially developed by the Forschungszentrum Jülich and now manufactured by the French ceramics firm St. Gobain. These cells have an active area of 16 cm2 per cell. They were initially developed as fuel cells, but are being tested as ... continued below

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O'Brien, J. E.; Stoots, C. M.; Herring, J. S.; Housley, G. K.; Sohal, M. S.; Milobar, D. G. et al. September 1, 2009.

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The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has been researching the application of solid-oxide electrolysis cell for large-scale hydrogen production from steam over a temperature range of 800 to 900ºC. The INL has been testing various solid oxide cell designs to characterize their electrolytic performance operating in the electrolysis mode for hydrogen production. Some results presented in this report were obtained from cells, initially developed by the Forschungszentrum Jülich and now manufactured by the French ceramics firm St. Gobain. These cells have an active area of 16 cm2 per cell. They were initially developed as fuel cells, but are being tested as electrolytic cells in the INL test stands. The electrolysis cells are electrode-supported, with ~10 µm thick yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) electrolytes, ~1400 µm thick nickel-YSZ steam-hydrogen electrodes, and manganite (LSM) air-oxygen electrodes. The experiments were performed over a range of steam inlet mole fractions (0.1 to 0.6), gas flow rates, and current densities (0 to 0.6 A/cm2). Steam consumption rates associated with electrolysis were measured directly using inlet and outlet dewpoint instrumentation. On a molar basis, the steam consumption rate is equal to the hydrogen production rate. Cell performance was evaluated by performing DC potential sweeps at 800, 850, and 900°C. The voltage-current characteristics are presented, along with values of area-specific resistance as a function of current density. Long-term cell performance is also assessed to evaluate cell degradation. Details of the custom single-cell test apparatus developed for these experiments are also presented. NASA, in conjunction with the University of Toledo, has developed another fuel cell concept with the goals of reduced weight and high power density. The NASA cell is structurally symmetrical, with both electrodes supporting the thin electrolyte and containing micro-channels for gas diffusion. This configuration is called a bi-electrode supported cell or BSC. The electrodes are made by freeze-casting, a modified tape casting technique which creates the many micro-channels in the YSZ electrode green tape. This report presents results of the INL’s testing of this new solid oxide cell design as an electrolyzer. Gas composition, operating voltage, and other parameters were varied during testing. Results to date show the NASA cell to be a promising design for both high power-to-weight fuel cell and electrolyzer applications.

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  • Report No.: INL/EXT-09-16783
  • Grant Number: DE-AC07-05ID14517
  • DOI: 10.2172/968662 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 968662
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc930804

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  • September 1, 2009

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

Description Last Updated

  • Jan. 4, 2017, 2:22 p.m.

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O'Brien, J. E.; Stoots, C. M.; Herring, J. S.; Housley, G. K.; Sohal, M. S.; Milobar, D. G. et al. Insights Gained from Testing Alternate Cell Designs, report, September 1, 2009; [Idaho]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc930804/: accessed June 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.