Computational design, fabrication, and characterization of microarchitectured solid oxide fuel cells with improved energy efficiency
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Electrodes in a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) must possess both adequate porosity and electronic conductivity to perform their functions in the cell. They must be porous to permit rapid mass transport of reactant and product gases and sufficiently conductive to permit efficient electron transfer. However, it is nearly impossible to simultaneously control porosity and conductivity using conventional design and fabrication techniques. In this dissertation, computational design and performance optimization of microarchitectured SOFCs is first investigated in order to achieve higher power density and thus higher efficiency than currently attainable in state-of-the-art SOFCs. This involves a coupled multiphysics simulation of mass transport, electrochemical charge transfer reaction, and current balance as a function of SOFC microarchitecture. Next, the fabrication of microarchitectured SOFCs consistent with the computational designs is addressed based on anode-supported SOFC button cells using the laser ablation technique. Finally, the performance of a fabricated SOFC unit cell is characterized and compared against the performance predicted by the computational model. The results show that the performance of microarchitectured SOFCs was improved against the baseline structure and measured experimental data were well matched to simulation results.