Navigation Links
A 'turbo' for solid oxide fuel cells

This press release is available in German.

Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) directly convert chemical energy into electrical energy. Although an overall efficiency above 95 per cent can be achieved at an operating temperature of nearly 900 degrees Celsius, a certain amount thereof is waste heat and can currently only be used for domestic hot water supply or heating purposes. Andre Heel, chemical engineer and research coordinator of the strategic partnership between Empa and Hexis AG, has something else in mind. He wants to "upgrade" it into electricity using thermoelectric converters (TECs). "This will not only increase the efficiency of the fuel cell system", says Heel. "Highly efficient energy conversion technologies are also the most effective way to conserve valuable resources."

Like adhesive plasters, TECs which are already commercially available are stuck to the walls of motors, industrial ovens and other heat sources. They consist of two different types of semiconducting materials on either side. If there is a temperature gradient between the two sides, electrons are transferred from one side to the other, i.e. an electric current is induced, which can be "harvested".

Under Heel's leadership, Empa kicked-off the four-year "HITTEC" project this summer (HIgh Temperature ThermoElectric Converters). Its aim is to develop and optimize materials for TECs that can withstand elevated temperatures. Not a small feat, given that current TECs can only be operated at temperatures below 300 degrees. What's more, HITTEC materials also have to combine seemingly contradicting properties. They should, for instance, be both highly electrically conductive and at the same have a poor thermal conductivity.

A team led by Anke Weidenkaff, head of Empa's Laboratory for Solid State Chemistry and Catalysis and professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Berne, has set its sights on perovskite-type oxides. These compounds exhibit interesting properties: they are chemically and thermally stable, non-toxic, and can be produced at low cost in large volumes. A particularly promising candidate, it turned out, is tungsten-substituted calcium manganate.

In order to properly evaluate the power output of their novel high-temperature thermoelectric converters at high temperatures, Weidenkaff's team has developed unique equipment capable of faithfully replicating the extreme operating conditions experienced by HITTEC modules. But the researchers are also developing new concepts to overcome challenges in the design of the HITTEC modules. "We are not simply going to stick our converter onto an SOFC", says Weidenkaff. Instead, her team wants to integrate fuel cell and thermoelectric converters in an entirely new way, by directly using thermoelectric converters as fuel cell electrodes, that is, the site of the chemical reaction. "An ambitious idea", admits Weidenkaff. But one with a huge potential because the high-temperature ceramic materials of the SOFC conductor system are not unlike perovskite-type oxides used for HITTECs.

The project relies on a highly multidisciplinary team; Heel and Weidenkaff are cooperating with colleagues from ETH Zurich, EPF Lausanne and the Zurich University of Applied Science (ZHAW). The team's combined efforts will lead to prototypes constructed together with Hexis. Heel estimates that SOFC systems could generate up to 10 per cent extra electric power by using thermoelectric converters thus conserving a significant amount of valuable energy resources.


Contact: Andr Heel
Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA)

Related biology news :

1. Aqueous iron interacts as strong as solid iron
2. Fertilizer use responsible for increase in nitrous oxide in atmosphere
3. Growing nitrous oxide levels explained
4. Light-induced delivery of nitric oxide eradicates drug-resistant bacteria
5. Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in Arctic coastal seas
6. UC Berkeley chemists installing first carbon dioxide sensor network in Oakland
7. Geologists testing aquifer rocks as containers to permanently trap carbon dioxide
8. Rising carbon dioxide in atmosphere also speeds carbon loss from forest soils, IU-led research finds
9. Study shows economic feasibility for capturing carbon dioxide directly from the air
10. Controlling gene expression with hydrogen peroxide switches
11. Anti-angina drug shows protective effects from carbon monoxide
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
A 'turbo' for solid oxide fuel cells
(Date:4/17/2017)... MELBOURNE, Florida , April 17, 2017 ... security technology company, announces the filing of its 2016 Annual Report ... Securities and Exchange Commission. ... Report on Form 10-K is available in the Investor Relations section ... well as on the SEC,s website at . ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... , April 11, 2017 No two ... researchers at the New York University Tandon School ... Engineering have found that partial similarities between prints ... used in mobile phones and other electronic devices ... The vulnerability lies in the fact that ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... April 4, 2017 KEY FINDINGS ... expand at a CAGR of 25.76% during the forecast ... the primary factor for the growth of the stem ... MARKET INSIGHTS The global stem cell ... application, and geography. The stem cell market of the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 10, 2017 , ... San Diego-based ... of its corporate rebranding initiative announced today. The bold new look is part ... as the company moves into a significant growth period. , It will also expand ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... firm Parks Associates announced today that Tom Kerber , ... Meeting , October 11 in Scottsdale, Arizona . Kerber ... smart safety and security products impact the competitive landscape. ... Parks Associates: Smart Home Devices: Main Purchase Driver ... "The residential security market has experienced continued growth, and the introduction ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... 2017  BioTech Holdings announced today identification and ... ProCell stem cell therapy prevents limb loss in ... demonstrated that treatment with ProCell resulted in more ... compared to standard bone marrow stem cell administration.  ... reduction of therapeutic effect.  ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 09, ... ... published on October 5, 2017, in the medical journal, Epilepsia, Brain Sentinel’s ... the gold standard, video EEG, in detecting generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTCS) using ...
Breaking Biology Technology: