Promotion of water-mediated carbon removal by nanostructured barium oxide/nickel interfaces in solid oxide fuel cells

Nat Commun. 2011 Jun 21;2:357. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1359.


The existing Ni-yttria-stabilized zirconia anodes in solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) perform poorly in carbon-containing fuels because of coking and deactivation at desired operating temperatures. Here we report a new anode with nanostructured barium oxide/nickel (BaO/Ni) interfaces for low-cost SOFCs, demonstrating high power density and stability in C(3)H(8), CO and gasified carbon fuels at 750°C. Synchrotron-based X-ray analyses and microscopy reveal that nanosized BaO islands grow on the Ni surface, creating numerous nanostructured BaO/Ni interfaces that readily adsorb water and facilitate water-mediated carbon removal reactions. Density functional theory calculations predict that the dissociated OH from H(2)O on BaO reacts with C on Ni near the BaO/Ni interface to produce CO and H species, which are then electrochemically oxidized at the triple-phase boundaries of the anode. This anode offers potential for ushering in a new generation of SOFCs for efficient, low-emission conversion of readily available fuels to electricity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Barium Compounds / chemistry*
  • Carbon / chemistry*
  • Electric Power Supplies*
  • Electrochemistry
  • Electrodes*
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Chemical
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nanostructures*
  • Nickel / chemistry*
  • Oxides / chemistry*
  • Propane
  • Synchrotrons
  • Temperature
  • Water / chemistry*
  • X-Ray Absorption Spectroscopy
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Barium Compounds
  • Oxides
  • Water
  • Carbon
  • barium oxide
  • Nickel
  • Propane