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Summary Report on Solid-oxide Electrolysis Cell Testing and Development

Description: Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has been researching the application of solid-oxide electrolysis cells (SOECs) for large-scale hydrogen production from steam over a temperature range of 800 to 900 C. From 2003 to 2009, this work was sponsored by the United States Department of Energy Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative, under the Office of Nuclear Energy. Starting in 2010, the high-temperature electrolysis (HTE) research program has been sponsored by the INL Next Generation Nuclear Plant Project. This report provides a summaryof program activities performed in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 and the first quarter of FY-12, with a focus on small-scale testing and cell development activities. HTE research priorities during this period have included the development and testing of SOEC and stack designs that exhibit high-efficiency initial performance and low, long-term degradation rates. This report includes contributions from INL and five industry partners: Materials and Systems Research, Incorporated (MSRI); Versa Power Systems, Incorporated (VPS); Ceramatec, Incorporated; National Aeronautics and Space Administration - Glenn Research Center (NASA - GRC); and the St. Gobain Advanced Materials Division. These industry partners have developed SOEC cells and stacks for in-house testing in the electrolysis mode and independent testing at INL. Additional fundamental research and post-test physical examinations have been performed at two university partners: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Connecticut. Summaries of these activities and test results are also presented in this report.
Date: January 1, 2012
Creator: O'Brien, J.E.; Zhang, X.; O'Brien, R.C. & Hawkes, G.L.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Performance Assessment of Single Electrode-Supported Solid Oxide Cells Operating in the Steam Electrolysis Mode

Description: An experimental study is under way to assess the performance of electrode-supported solid-oxide cells operating in the steam electrolysis mode for hydrogen production. Results presented in this paper were obtained from single cells, with an active area of 16 cm{sup 2} per cell. The electrolysis cells are electrode-supported, with yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) electrolytes ({approx}10 {mu}m thick), nickel-YSZ steam/hydrogen electrodes ({approx}1400 {mu}m thick), and modified LSM or LSCF air-side electrodes ({approx}90 {mu}m thick). The purpose of the present study is to document and compare the performance and degradation rates of these cells in the fuel cell mode and in the electrolysis mode under various operating conditions. Initial performance was documented through a series of voltage-current (VI) sweeps and AC impedance spectroscopy measurements. Degradation was determined through long-term testing, first in the fuel cell mode, then in the electrolysis mode. Results generally indicate accelerated degradation rates in the electrolysis mode compared to the fuel cell mode, possibly due to electrode delamination. The paper also includes details of an improved single-cell test apparatus developed specifically for these experiments.
Date: November 1, 2011
Creator: Zhang, X.; O'Brien, J. E.; O'Brien, R. C. & Petigny, N.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

ADVANCED RADIOISOTOPE HEAT SOURCE AND PROPULSION SYSTEMS FOR PLANETARY EXPLORATION

Description: The exploration of planetary surfaces and atmospheres may be enhanced by increasing the range and mobility of a science platform. Fundamentally, power production and availability of resources are limiting factors that must be considered for all science and exploration missions. A novel power and propulsion system is considered and discussed with reference to a long-range Mars surface exploration mission with in-situ resource utilization. Significance to applications such as sample return missions is also considered. Key material selections for radioisotope encapsulation techniques are presented.
Date: September 1, 2010
Creator: O'Brien, R. C.; Howe, S. D. & Werner, J. E.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

High Temperature Steam Electrolysis: Demonstration of Improved Long-Term Performance

Description: Long-term performance is an ongoing issue for hydrogen production based on high-temperature steam electrolysis (HTSE). For commercial deployment, solid-oxide electrolysis stacks must achieve high performance with long-term degradation rates of {approx}0.5%/1000 hours or lower. Significant progress has been achieved toward this goal over the past few years. This paper will provide details of progress achieved under the Idaho National Laboratory high temperature electrolysis research program. Recent long-term stack tests have achieved high initial performance with degradation rates less than 5%/khr. These tests utilize internally manifolded stacks with electrode-supported cells. The cell material sets are optimized for the electrolysis mode of operation. Details of the cells and stacks will be provided along with details of the test apparatus, procedures, and results.
Date: November 1, 2011
Creator: O'Brien, J. E.; Zhang, X.; O'Brien, R. C. & Tao, G.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

RECENT ADVANCES IN HIGH TEMPERATURE ELECTROLYSIS AT IDAHO NATIONAL LABORATORY: SINGLE CELL TESTS

Description: An experimental investigation on the performance and durability of single solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOECs) is under way at the Idaho National Laboratory. In order to understand and mitigate the degradation issues in high temperature electrolysis, single SOECs with different configurations from several manufacturers have been evaluated for initial performance and long-term durability. A new test apparatus has been developed for single cell and small stack tests from different vendors. Single cells from Ceramatec Inc. show improved durability compared to our previous stack tests. Single cells from Materials and Systems Research Inc. (MSRI) demonstrate low degradation both in fuel cell and electrolysis modes. Single cells from Saint Gobain Advanced Materials (St. Gobain) show stable performance in fuel cell mode, but rapid degradation in the electrolysis mode. Electrolyte-electrode delamination is found to have significant impact on degradation in some cases. Enhanced bonding between electrolyte and electrode and modification of the microstructure help to mitigate degradation. Polarization scans and AC impedance measurements are performed during the tests to characterize the cell performance and degradation.
Date: July 1, 2012
Creator: Zhang, X.; O'Brien, J. E. & O'Brien, R. C.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

LONG-TERM PERFORMANCE OF SOLID OXIDE STACKS WITH ELECTRODE-SUPPORTED CELLS OPERATING IN THE STEAM ELECTROLYSIS MODE

Description: Performance characterization and durability testing have been completed on two five-cell high-temperature electrolysis stacks constructed with advanced cell and stack technologies. The solid oxide cells incorporate a negative-electrode-supported multi-layer design with nickel-zirconia cermet negative electrodes, thin-film yttria-stabilized zirconia electrolytes, and multi-layer lanthanum ferrite-based positive electrodes. The per-cell active area is 100 cm2. The stack is internally manifolded with compliant mica-glass seals. Treated metallic interconnects with integral flow channels separate the cells. Stack compression is accomplished by means of a custom spring-loaded test fixture. Initial stack performance characterization was determined through a series of DC potential sweeps in both fuel cell and electrolysis modes of operation. Results of these sweeps indicated very good initial performance, with area-specific resistance values less than 0.5 ?.cm2. Long-term durability testing was performed with A test duration of 1000 hours. Overall performance degradation was less than 10% over the 1000-hour period. Final stack performance characterization was again determined by a series of DC potential sweeps at the same flow conditions as the initial sweeps in both electrolysis and fuel cell modes of operation. A final sweep in the fuel cell mode indicated a power density of 0.356 W/cm2, with average per-cell voltage of 0.71 V at a current of 50 A.
Date: November 1, 2011
Creator: O'Brien, J. E.; O'Brien, R. C.; Zhang, X.; Tao, G. & Butler, B. J.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

RECENT ADVANCES IN HIGH TEMPERATURE ELECTROLYSIS AT IDAHO NATIONAL LABORATORY: STACK TESTS

Description: High temperature steam electrolysis is a promising technology for efficient sustainable large-scale hydrogen production. Solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOECs) are able to utilize high temperature heat and electric power from advanced high-temperature nuclear reactors or renewable sources to generate carbon-free hydrogen at large scale. However, long term durability of SOECs needs to be improved significantly before commercialization of this technology. A degradation rate of 1%/khr or lower is proposed as a threshold value for commercialization of this technology. Solid oxide electrolysis stack tests have been conducted at Idaho National Laboratory to demonstrate recent improvements in long-term durability of SOECs. Electrolytesupported and electrode-supported SOEC stacks were provided by Ceramatec Inc., Materials and Systems Research Inc. (MSRI), and Saint Gobain Advanced Materials (St. Gobain), respectively for these tests. Long-term durability tests were generally operated for a duration of 1000 hours or more. Stack tests based on technology developed at Ceramatec and MSRI have shown significant improvement in durability in the electrolysis mode. Long-term degradation rates of 3.2%/khr and 4.6%/khr were observed for MSRI and Ceramatec stacks, respectively. One recent Ceramatec stack even showed negative degradation (performance improvement) over 1900 hours of operation. A three-cell short stack provided by St. Gobain, however, showed rapid degradation in the electrolysis mode. Improvements on electrode materials, interconnect coatings, and electrolyteelectrode interface microstructures contribute to better durability of SOEC stacks.
Date: July 1, 2012
Creator: X, Zhang; O'Brien, J. E.; O'Brien, R. C.; Hartvigsen, J. J.; Tao, G. & Petigny, N.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

TESTING AND PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS OF NASA 5 CM BY 5 CM BI-SUPPORTED SOLID OXIDE ELECTROLYSIS CELLS OPERATED IN BOTH FUEL CELL AND STEAM ELECTROLYSIS MODES

Description: A series of 5 cm by 5 cm bi-supported Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cells (SOEC) were produced by NASA for the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and tested under the INL High Temperature Steam Electrolysis program. The results from the experimental demonstration of cell operation for both hydrogen production and operation as fuel cells is presented. An overview of the cell technology, test apparatus and performance analysis is also provided. The INL High Temperature Steam Electrolysis laboratory has developed significant test infrastructure in support of single cell and stack performance analyses. An overview of the single cell test apparatus is presented. The test data presented in this paper is representative of a first batch of NASA's prototypic 5 cm by 5 cm SOEC single cells. Clearly a significant relationship between the operational current density and cell degradation rate is evident. While the performance of these cells was lower than anticipated, in-house testing at NASA Glenn has yielded significantly higher performance and lower degradation rates with subsequent production batches of cells. Current post-test microstructure analyses of the cells tested at INL will be published in a future paper. Modification to cell compositions and cell reduction techniques will be altered in the next series of cells to be delivered to INL with the aim to decrease the cell degradation rate while allowing for higher operational current densities to be sustained. Results from the testing of new batches of single cells will be presented in a future paper.
Date: November 1, 2011
Creator: O'Brien, R. C.; O'Brien, J. E.; Stoots, C. M.; Zhang, X.; Farmer, S. C.; Cable, T. L. et al.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Advanced Cell Development and Degradation Studies

Description: The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has been researching the application of solid-oxide electrolysis cells for large-scale hydrogen production from steam over a temperature range of 800 to 900ºC. From 2003 – 2009, this work was sponsored by the DOE Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative (NHI). Starting in 2010, the HTE research program has been sponsored by the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) program. HTSE research priorities in FY10 are centered on understanding and reducing cell and stack performance degradation to an acceptable level to advance the technology readiness level of HTSE and to justify further large-scale demonstration activities. This report provides a summary of our FY10 experimental program, which has been focused on advanced cell and stack development and degradation studies. Advanced cell and stack development activities are under way at five technology partners: MSRI, Versa Power, Ceramatec, NASA Glenn, and St. Gobain. Performance evaluation of the advanced technology cells and stacks has been performed by the technology partners, by MIT and the University of Connecticut and at the INL HTE Laboratory. Summaries of these development activities and test results are presented.
Date: September 1, 2010
Creator: O'Brien, J. E.; Stoots, C. M.; Herring, J. S.; O'Brien, R. C.; Condie, K. G.; Sohal, M. et al.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department