Protonic ceramic electrochemical cells for hydrogen production and electricity generation: exceptional reversibility, stability, and demonstrated faradaic efficiency†
We demonstrate exceptional performance for steam electrolysis at intermediate temperatures (500–650 °C) using protonic ceramic electrolyte cells comprised of the proton-permeable, high-activity mixed conductor PrBa0.5Sr0.5Co1.5Fe0.5O5+δ (PBSCF) as the air electrode, the highly proton-conductive and chemically stable perovskite oxide BaZr0.4Ce0.4Y0.1Yb0.1O3 (BZCYYb4411) as the electrolyte, and a composite of Ni–BZCYYb4411 as the fuel electrode. Cells constructed from this material set have been shown previously to function efficiently in fuel cell mode. We demonstrate here reversible operation, enabling hydrogen production when excess electricity is available and immediate electricity generation from stored hydrogen when power demand is high. The cells are stable under cyclic operation and also under prolonged continuous operation in electrolysis mode, undergoing minimal loss in electrochemical characteristics after 500 h at 550 °C. Microstructurally optimized cells yield a remarkable current density of −1.80 A cm−2 at 600 °C and an operating voltage of 1.3 V, of which, based on an electrochemically deduced faradaic efficiency of 76%, −1.37 A cm−2 contributes to useful hydrogen.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2018 Energy and Environmental Science HOT Articles