Cathode polarization effects in rare Earth nickelate cathodes for solid oxide fuel cells
Banner, Jane Elise
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The US navy has a critical need for air independent advanced electric power sources to replace batteries in unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs). Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) are being considered as one potential replacement option. However, SOFCs typically operate using atmospheric air as their oxidant which is not an option for this underwater application. For this application, pure pressurized oxygen would be used as the oxidant which motivates the search for a cathode material which would be optimal for a high oxygen partial pressure environments. Specifically, this research focuses on cathode materials which can exploit the unique operating conditions required for UUVs. The operation in 100% oxygen atmosphere rather than air provides a significant opportunity. This is because oxygen surface exchange and bulk transport through the cathode is mediated through point defects whose concentrations are sensitive to the partial pressure of oxygen in the atmosphere surrounding the cathode. Oxygen bulk transport along with oxygen surface exchange are the rate controlling steps in oxygen reduction and incorporation at the cathode. The focus of this research is to examine the relationship between oxygen partial pressure and its effect on SOFC cathode performance for two different families of cathode materials, namely strontium doped lanthanum manganite, and a relatively new class of cathode materials, rare-earth nickelates. The experimentally measured relationship between cathode polarization and oxygen partial pressure will be correlated with the underlying transport and surface exchange processes in both families of materials.