Boosting solid oxide fuel cell performance via electrolyte thickness reduction and cathode infiltration
Increasing the power density and reducing the operating temperature of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) is important for improving commercial viability. Here we discuss two strategies for achieving such improvements in Ni–YSZ supported SOFCs – electrolyte thickness reduction and cathode infiltration. Microstructural and electrochemical results are presented showing the effect of reducing YSZ/GDC electrolyte thickness from 8 to 2.5 μm, and the effect of PrOx infiltration into the LSCF–GDC cathode. Both of these measures are effective, particularly at lower temperatures, leading to an increase in the maximum power density at 650 oC from 0.4 to 0.95 W cm–2, for example. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy utilizing subtractive analysis shows that PrOx enhances the cathode charge transfer process. Reducing the electrolyte thickness reduces not only the cell ohmic resistance but also the electrode polarization resistance. The latter effect appears to be an artifact associated with a slight increase in the steam partial pressure at the anode due to minor gas leakage across the thinner electrolyte.