Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) are under intensive investigation since the 1980's as these devices open the way for ecologically clean direct conversion of the chemical energy into electricity, avoiding the efficiency limitation by Carnot's cycle for thermochemical conversion. However, the practical development of SOFC faces a number of unresolved fundamental problems, in particular concerning the kinetics of the electrode reactions, especially oxygen reduction reaction. We review recent experimental and theoretical achievements in the current understanding of the cathode performance by exploring and comparing mostly three materials: (La,Sr)MnO3 (LSM), (La,Sr)(Co,Fe)O3 (LSCF) and (Ba,Sr)(Co,Fe)O3 (BSCF). Special attention is paid to a critical evaluation of advantages and disadvantages of BSCF, which shows the best cathode kinetics known so far for oxides. We demonstrate that it is the combined experimental and theoretical analysis of all major elementary steps of the oxygen reduction reaction which allows us to predict the rate determining steps for a given material under specific operational conditions and thus control and improve SOFC performance.
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Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics
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