A redox-stable efficient anode for solid-oxide fuel cells

Nat Mater. 2003 May;2(5):320-3. doi: 10.1038/nmat871.


Solid-oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) promise high efficiencies in a range of fuels. Unlike lower temperature variants, carbon monoxide is a fuel rather than a poison, and so hydrocarbon fuels can be used directly, through internal reforming or even direct oxidation. This provides a key entry strategy for fuel-cell technology into the current energy economy. Present development is mainly based on the yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) electrolyte. The most commonly used anode materials are Ni/YSZ cermets, which display excellent catalytic properties for fuel oxidation and good current collection, but do exhibit disadvantages, such as low tolerance to sulphur and carbon deposition when using hydrocarbon fuels, and poor redox cycling causing volume instability. Here, we report a nickel-free SOFC anode, La0.75Sr0.25Cr0.5Mn0.5O3, with comparable electrochemical performance to Ni/YSZ cermets. The electrode polarization resistance approaches 0.2 Omega cm2 at 900 degrees C in 97% H2/3% H2O. Very good performance is achieved for methane oxidation without using excess steam. The anode is stable in both fuel and air conditions, and shows stable electrode performance in methane. Thus both redox stability and operation in low steam hydrocarbons have been demonstrated, overcoming two of the major limitations of the current generation of nickel zirconia cermet SOFC anodes.