Low temperature solid oxide fuel cells with proton-conducting Y:BaZrO3 electrolyte on porous anodic aluminum oxide substrate

This paper presents the architecture of a nano thin-film yttrium-doped barium zirconate (BYZ) solid-oxide fuel cell that uses nanoporous anodic aluminum oxide (AAO) as a supporting and gas-permeable substrate. The anode was fabricated by sputtering 300 nm platinum thin film that partially covered the AAO surface pores, followed by an additional conformal platinum coating to tune the pore size by atomic layer deposition. Two different nano-porous anode structures with a pore size of 10 nm or 50 nm were deposited. Proton-conducting BYZ ceramic electrolyte with increasing thicknesses of 300, 600, and 900 nm was deposited on top of the platinum anode by pulsed laser deposition, followed by a 200 nm layer of porous Pt sputtered on BYZ electrolyte as a cathode. The open circuit voltage (OCV) of the fuel cells was characterized at 250 degrees C with 1: 1 volumetric stoichiometry of a methanol/water vapor mixture as the fuel. The OCVs were 0.17 V with a 900 nm-thick BYZ electrolyte on 50 nm pores and 0.3 V with a 600 nm-thick BYZ electrolyte on 10 nm pores, respectively, but it increased to 0.8 V for a 900 nm-thick BYZ electrolyte on 10 nm pores, indicating that increasing the film thickness and decreasing a surface pore size help to reduce the number of electrolyte pinholes and the gas leakage through the electrolyte. A maximum power density of 5.6 mW/cm(2) at 250 degrees C was obtained from the fuel cell with 900 nm of BYZ electrolyte using methanol vapor as a fuel.

Seungbum Ha, Peichen Su, Sanghoon Ji, Sukwon Cha.