Role of mixed ionic and electronic transport on electrocatalytic activity of infiltrated nanoparticles in solid oxide fuel cell cermet electrodes
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The infiltration of nanoparticle electrocatalysts into solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) electrodes has been proven to produce a high density of electrochemically active sites, and reduce charge transfer polarization losses in SOFC electrodes. This is crucial for intermediate temperature operation, as these losses increase greatly at lower temperatures. Nickel-yttria stabilized zirconia (Ni-YSZ) cermets are low-cost, and exhibit excellent stability, but their main disadvantage stems from nickel coarsening and performance loss over their operational lifetimes. Infiltration of electrocatalyst nanoparticles has been shown to mitigate nickel coarsening and the consequent anode degradation. In this work, the effects of these infiltrants have been observed in a standard Ni-YSZ electrode. In addition to nickel, mixed ionic and electronic conducting (MIEC) phases have been infiltrated into Ni-YSZ scaffolds and their performance characterized using electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). Cross-sectional microscopy of fractured cells has been used to compare electrode microstructure and particle statistics. A model has been proposed to explain the origin of anode performance enhancement from nanoscale electrocatalysts.
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