Yuwei Wang^{a},
Erqing Zhao^{b},
Liquan Fan*^{a},
Qianjun Hu^{c},
Xijun Liu^{a},
Yufeng Li^{a} and
Yueping Xiong*^{c}
^{a}College of Materials Science and Engineering, Heilongjiang Provincial Key Laboratory of Polymeric Composite Materials, Qiqihar University, No. 42, Wenhua Street, Qiqihar 161006, China. E-mail: Liquan_Fan@163.com
^{b}School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Henan Institute of Science and Technology, Xinxiang, 453003, China
^{c}MIIT Key Laboratory of Critical Materials Technology for New Energy Conversion and Storage, School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Harbin Institute of Technology, 92 West Dazhi Street, Mailbox 1247, Harbin 150001, China. E-mail: ypxiong@hit.edu.cn
First published on 18th October 2018
For the sake of comparison, a single cell with nanofiber-based LST–GDC composite anode (Cell-1) and a single cell with nanoparticle-based LST–GDC composite anode (Cell-2) are fabricated, respectively. The electrolyte ohmic resistances of the LST–GDC composite anode side half-cells are determined by an AC resistance measurement. Current interrupt is applied to measure the ohmic resistance of the half-cells. Combined with V–I characteristics, the influences of the potential drops caused by electrolyte ohmic resistance, electrode ohmic resistance and electrode electrochemical reaction on the cell kinetics are investigated. Under a current density of 0.6 A cm^{−2} at 850 °C, for the nanofiber-based LST–GDC composite anode (NF-LST–GDC), the electrode ohmic potential drop is 0.007 V and the potential drop caused by the electrode electrochemical reaction is 0.080 V. While for the nanoparticle-based LST–GDC composite anode (NP-LST–GDC), the corresponding potential drops are 0.159 V and 0.246 V, respectively. Both the potential drops of the former are lower than those of the latter. The kinetics of Cell-1 is greater than Cell-2, i.e., the kinetics of NF-LST–GDC is greater than that of NP-LST–GDC.
From previous studies on performance of Gd_{0.2}Ce_{0.8}O_{1.9} (GDC) infiltrated La_{0.2}Sr_{0.8}TiO_{3} (LST) nanofiber scaffolds as anodes for solid oxide fuel cells,^{12,13} it was shown that nanofiber-based LST–GDC composite anodes with the optimal mass ratio range of LST to GDC show good electrochemical performance and microstructure stability when subjected to thermal and redox cycling due to the porous LST nanofiber scaffold in the composite anode buffers the volume change. Compared with YSZ and ScSZ, the LST–GDC composite anode with LSGM as the electrolyte shows the best electrochemical performance due to the electrolyte high O^{2−} conductivity. As a follow-up study, the purpose of our study was to further investigate which factors affect the kinetics of the single cells with the nanofiber-based LST–GDC composite anode.
The transient measurement method provides an effective way to observe the total ohmic potential of the electrochemical systems.^{14} Current interruption (CI) technique can be successfully applied to estimate the internal resistance of fuel cells. By interrupting briefly the current flowing to the electrochemical system of a fuel cell, the instantaneous change in voltage and current of the cell just prior to the interrupt event are accurately recorded. The resultant quotient of the instantaneous change is considered as the total ohmic resistance of the fuel cell because the cell voltage increases instantaneously by the amount of the ohmic potential drop.^{15,16} For SOFCs, the total ohmic resistance consists of the electrode ohmic resistance and the electrolyte ohmic resistance. The electrolyte ohmic resistance can be obtained from electrochemical impedance spectra study which corresponds to the high frequency intercept at real axis.^{17} So the electrode ohmic resistance here is the total ohmic resistance obtained from CI measurement minus the electrolyte ohmic resistance determined by electrochemical impedance spectra (EIS). This paper mainly focuses on the influence of electrode ohmic resistance on kinetics property of the SOFCs with different nanostructured anodes.
For comparison, two kinds of three-electrode systems were prepared in the current work. The three-electrode system consisting of NF-LST–GDC as a working electrode, NF-SSC–GDC as a counter electrode, Pt on the rim of the LSGMC disk (thickness: 610 μm) as a reference electrode was denoted as Cell-1. The three-electrode system consisting of NP-LST–GDC as a working electrode, NF-SSC–GDC as a counter electrode, Pt on the rim of the LSGMC disk (thickness: 623 μm) as a reference electrode was denoted as Cell-2.
Fig. 2 SEM results showing (a) an overview of a typical single cell with the configuration of NF-SSC–GDC|LSGMC|NF-LST–GDC, (b) NF-LST–GDC and (c) NF-SSC–GDC. |
In order to compare the microstructures of the two different anodes, the SEM images of NF-LST–GDC in Cell-1 and NP-LST–GDC in Cell-2 are showed in Fig. 3a and Fig. 3b, respectively. As observed, there is high porosity for gas transport in the electrode due to the randomly distributed LST nanofibers (shown in Fig. 3a). Apparently, for NP-LST–GDC produced by infiltration of GDC into the LST nanoparticle scaffold, several particles get together which lead to the invisible grain boundaries, and the size of the conglutinated particles is ranged from about 100 nm to several hundred nm, as can be seen in Fig. 3b. In contrast, NP-LST–GDC has much denser structure, which results in lower electrode porosity than NF-LST–GDC. That is to say, NF-LST–GDC has larger TPB region than NP-LST–GDC.
Electrochemical impedance spectra (EIS) measurements were conducted on the single cell of NF-SSC–GDC|LSGMC|NF-LST–GDC at 700°, 750°, 800° and 850 °C. In order to clearly compare the difference in interfacial polarization resistance (R_{p}) between the anode and the cathode, all electrolyte ohmic resistances were removed from the impedance data. As presented in Fig. 4a, the impedance spectra obtained with NF-LST–GDC appeared as two depressed capacitive arcs, which can be fitted by the equivalent circuit of LR_{0}(R_{1}Q)(R_{2}Q). Here L is an inductance and Q a constant phase element. R_{0} represents ohmic resistance, R_{1} high frequency region resistance and R_{2} low frequency region resistance. R_{1} and R_{2} constitute the interfacial polarization resistance (R_{p}). The R_{p} values of NF-LST–GDC were 0.578, 0.372, 0.261 and 0.222 Ω cm^{2} at 700°, 750°, 800° and 850 °C, respectively. As shown in Fig. 4b, the R_{p} values of NF-SSC–GDC were 0.155, 0.083, 0.044 and 0.032 Ω cm^{2} at 700°, 750°, 800° and 850 °C, respectively. Obviously, the R_{p} values of NF-LST–GDC were much larger than those of NF-SSC–GDC. The R_{p} values of the cathode are small enough to ignore the effect on cell performance relative to the anode. Thus, we only focus on the performance of anode side half-cells.
For comparison, two kinds of three-electrode systems were prepared in the current work. The three-electrode system consisting of NF-LST–GDC as a working electrode, NF-SSC–GDC as a counter electrode, Pt on the rim of the LSGMC disk (thickness: 610 μm) as a reference electrode was denoted as Cell-1. Impedance spectra of Cell-1 obtained at 700°, 750°, 800° and 850 °C are presented in Fig. 5a. The three-electrode system consisting of NP-LST–GDC as a working electrode, NF-SSC–GDC as a counter electrode, Pt on the rim of the LSGMC disk (thickness: 623 μm) as a reference electrode was denoted as Cell-2. Impedance spectra of Cell-2 obtained at 700°, 750°, 800° and 850 °C are shown in Fig. 5b. From these spectra we can calculate the LSGMC electrolyte ohmic resistance (R_{e}) as the high frequency intercept with abscissa. The R_{p} of the LST–GDC electrode was derived from the difference between the low and high-frequency intercepts at the real impedance axis. For the sake of comparison, the R_{e} and R_{p} values for Cell-1 and Cell-2 are summarized in Table 1. It was observed that the R_{e} values of Cell-1 were lower than Cell-2, which related to the different thickness of the LSGMC electrolytes. The electrolyte ohmic resistance can be reduced by lowering the thickness of the electrolyte. The resulting lower potential drop of the electrolyte ohmic resistance increases the cell current density, i.e. enhances the cell kinetics. Besides electrolyte resistance, the factors influencing the cell kinetics are the potential drops caused by electrode ohmic resistance and electrode electrochemical reaction. Seen from Table 1, the R_{p} values of Cell-1 were also lower than Cell-2. It can be concluded that the electrochemical performance of Cell-1 was greater than Cell-2. The R_{p} values of NF-LST–GDC were smaller than R_{e} in Cell-1. The electrolyte ohmic resistance dominates the potential drop for Cell-1, comparing with R_{p}. While the R_{p} values of NP-LST–GDC were larger than R_{e} in Cell-2. By contrast, the anode resistance was the main factor of the potential drop for Cell-2, and the influence increased with the reducing temperature.
Fig. 5 Impedance spectra of LST–GDC anode side half-cells: (a) Cell-1 and (b) Cell-2 obtained at 700°, 750°, 800° and 850 °C. |
Temperature | Cell-1 | Cell-2 | ||
---|---|---|---|---|
R_{e} (Ω cm^{2}) | R_{p} (Ω cm^{2}) | R_{e} (Ω cm^{2}) | R_{p} (Ω cm^{2}) | |
700 °C | 1.182 | 0.856 | 1.418 | 5.445 |
750 °C | 0.855 | 0.529 | 1.022 | 2.905 |
800 °C | 0.661 | 0.331 | 0.795 | 1.594 |
850 °C | 0.548 | 0.236 | 0.643 | 0.920 |
CI testing was performed on Cell-1 and Cell-2 to obtain the cell ohmic resistance. After 50 s galvanostatic polarization of 10–50 mA, the cell current was very rapidly interrupted. The voltage and current variations with time for Cell-1 measured at 700°, 750°, 800° and 850 °C are shown in Fig. 6. The resulting variations of voltage and current with time for Cell-1 recorded at the times ranging from 50.001 s to 50.006 s shortly after current interruption are shown in Fig. 7. As expected, voltage scaled linearly with current under the galvanostatic polarization of 10–50 mA and these lines were parallel. The slope of each line was the cell ohmic resistance (R_{o}) at a certain temperature. Here, R_{o} obtained by CI was a combination of R_{e} and anode ohmic resistance (R_{a}). The R_{o} values under the galvanostatic polarization of 10–50 mA and the calculated average of R_{o} value for Cell-1 are summarized in Table 2. By subtracting electrolyte contribution from the total ohmic resistance, the ohmic resistance attributed to the anode can be estimated. R_{a} of NF-LST–GDC in Cell-1 equals the average R_{o} (shown in the last column of Table 2) minus R_{e} (shown in the second column of Table 1). The calculated R_{a} values of NF-LST–GDC in Cell-1 were 0.103 Ω cm^{2}, 0.051 Ω cm^{2}, 0.017 Ω cm^{2} and 0.011 Ω cm^{2} at 700°, 750°, 800° and 850 °C, respectively. The R_{o} values under the galvanostatic polarization of 10–50 mA and the calculated average of R_{o} value for Cell-2 are summarized in Table 3. By the same way, the obtained R_{a} values of NP-LST–GDC in Cell-2 were 1.398 Ω cm^{2}, 0.930 Ω cm^{2}, 0.393 Ω cm^{2} and 0.266 Ω cm^{2} at 700°, 750°, 800° and 850 °C, respectively. By comparison, the former was lower than the latter. R_{a} is closely associated with characteristics and microstructure of an electrode material. The LST nanofiber electrode scaffold with three-dimensional structure forms continuous electronic conduction path,^{12} which is the main reason why ohmic resistance of NF-LST–GDC is lower than that of NP-LST–GDC.
Fig. 6 The voltage and current variations with time for Cell-1 measured at 700°, 750°, 800° and 850 °C. |
Fig. 7 The variations of voltage and current with time for Cell-1 recorded at the times ranging from 50.001 s to 50.006 s shortly after current interruption. |
Temperature | R_{o} (Ω cm^{2}) | |||||
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
10 mA | 20 mA | 30 mA | 40 mA | 50 mA | Average | |
700 °C | 1.251 | 1.286 | 1.286 | 1.304 | 1.300 | 1.285 |
750 °C | 0.929 | 0.902 | 0.894 | 0.913 | 0.893 | 0.906 |
800 °C | 0.690 | 0.678 | 0.671 | 0.680 | 0.673 | 0.678 |
850 °C | 0.572 | 0.549 | 0.554 | 0.560 | 0.560 | 0.559 |
Temperature | R_{o} (Ω cm^{2}) | |||||
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
10 mA | 20 mA | 30 mA | 40 mA | 50 mA | Average | |
700 °C | 2.753 | 2.651 | 2.852 | 2.863 | 2.959 | 2.816 |
750 °C | 1.957 | 1.760 | 1.808 | 1.960 | 1.879 | 1.952 |
800 °C | 1.147 | 1.213 | 1.213 | 1.187 | 1.176 | 1.187 |
850 °C | 0.939 | 0.909 | 0.928 | 0.895 | 0.871 | 0.909 |
The relationships between voltage and current for Cell-1 and Cell-2 at different temperatures were determined by using the abovementioned three-electrode systems. The voltage–current (V–I) characteristics of Cell-1 and Cell-2 at 700°, 750°, 800° and 850 °C are shown in Fig. 8. Over the range of temperatures considered, the current density of Cell-1 was greater than Cell-2. For example, under the voltage of −0.6 V at 850 °C, the current density of Cell-1 was 0.65 A cm^{−2} while the one of Cell-2 was 0.35 A cm^{−2}, which further demonstrated that the kinetics of Cell-1 was greater than Cell-2.
Fig. 8 Voltage–current (V–I) characteristics of (a) Cell-1 and (b) Cell-2 at 700°, 750°, 800° and 850 °C. |
The cell ohmic voltage drop and the voltage drop caused by electrode electrochemical reaction increase with increasing current density under operating conditions, which results in a decrease in cell voltage. At a certain temperature, R_{e} and electrode ohmic resistance (the sum of both resistances is R_{o}) are constant and have not varied with the cell operating condition (i.e., the magnitude of current density). The cell voltage (OCV) minus the total ohmic voltage drop is equal to the voltage drop caused by the electrode electrochemical reaction. Combined with the results of V–I characteristics, the potential drops caused by electrolyte ohmic resistance, electrode ohmic resistance and electrode electrochemical reaction, each potential drop on the kinetics of Cell-1 and Cell-2 are clearly illustrated in Fig. 9 and Fig. 10. For example, under the current density of 0.6 A cm^{−2} at 850 °C (see Fig. 9d), the electrolyte ohmic potential drop for Cell-1 was 0.330 V (around 79.14% of the total potential drop). The electrode ohmic potential drop and the potential drop caused by electrode electrochemical reaction of NF-LST–GDC were respectively 0.007 V (1.67%, too small and not shown in Fig. 9d) and 0.080 V (19.19%). Thus it can be seen that NF-LST–GDC has good electrochemical performance. Compared to R_{p}, R_{e} is the major factor in degrading the electrochemical performance of Cell-1. Cell-1 kinetics can be highly improved when reducing the thickness of the electrolyte. While for Cell-2 under the same condition, the corresponding potential drops were respectively 0.386 V (48.80%), 0.159 V (20.10%) and 0.246 V (31.10%), as shown in Fig. 10d. Besides electrolyte ohmic resistance, the anode resistance of NP-LST–GDC was another main factor in degrading the Cell-2 kinetics and the effect increased with the increasing temperature. These results reveal that the main reason why the kinetics of Cell-1 is greater than Cell-2 is due to the greater kinetics of NF-LST–GDC than NP-LST–GDC.
The R_{e} values of Cell-1 were lower than Cell-2, relative to the thicker LSGMC electrolyte for Cell-2. The lower R_{e} was expected by lowering the thickness of the electrolyte, which facilitated lowering the potential drop of the electrolyte ohmic resistance and increasing the cell current density, i.e. enhancing the cell kinetics. The R_{p} values of Cell-1 were lower than Cell-2. The electrolyte ohmic potential drop, the electrode ohmic potential drop and the potential drop caused by electrode electrochemical reaction for Cell-1 were all lower than the corresponding potential drops for Cell-2. It can be concluded that the electrochemical performance of Cell-1 was greater than Cell-2. The R_{p} values of NF-LST–GDC were smaller than R_{e} in Cell-1. The electrolyte ohmic resistance dominates the potential drop for Cell-1, comparing with R_{p}. While the R_{p} values of NP-LST–GDC were larger than R_{e} in Cell-2. By contrast, the anode resistance was the main factor of the potential drop for Cell-2, and the influence increased with the reducing temperature. The main reason why the kinetics property of Cell-1 was greater than Cell-2 was due to the greater kinetics property of NF-LST–GDC than NP-LST–GDC.
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