Project No: SC0008203
Performer: NexTech Materials Ltd.


Shailesh Vora
Technology Manager
Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs)
National Energy Technology Laboratory
626 Cochrans Mill Road
P.O. Box 10940, MS 922-204
Pittsburgh, PA 15236-0940
(412) 386-7515

Seth Lawson
Project Manager
National Energy Technology Laboratory
3610 Collins Ferry Road
P.O. Box 880, MS P03C
Morgantown, WV 26507-0880
(304) 285-0578

Neil Kidner
Principal Investigator
NexTech Materials Ltd.
404 Enterprise Drive
Lewis Center, OH 43035
(614) 842-6606

Award Date:  06/28/2012
Project Date:  08/13/2015

DOE Share: $1,150,000.00
Performer Share: $0.00
Total Award Value: $1,150,000.00

Performer website: NexTech Materials Ltd. -

Advanced Energy Systems - Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

SOFC Protection Coatings Based on a Cost-Effective Aluminization Process

Project Description

To demonstrate the applicability of NexTech Materials' aluminization process to solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) applications, two commercially important systems will be investigated. (1) Compatibility of aluminide coating with SOFC stack components will be evaluated, including interactions with sealant materials and other cell components. A complete interconnect coating solution will be demonstrated by integrating the aluminide coating with the existing manganese cobalt oxide (MCO) active layer coating. The performance of these dual MCO/aluminide coated interconnects will be validated through three-cell stack tests. (2) The high-temperature corrosion protection and chromium volatilization mitigation of aluminide coated balance of plant (BOP) components will be evaluated. The commercial potential of the aluminization process for providing protective aluminide coatings for both the non-active seal area of metallic interconnects and BOP components will be quantified based on an analysis of cost and performance. This work leverages NexTech’s process technology for applying conductive oxide protective coatings to ferritic steels. This process has already been translated from the laboratory to pilot-scale manufacturing.

Program Background and Project Benefits

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is developing the next generation of efficient fossil fuel technologies capable of producing affordable electric power with near-zero emissions. The Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) program at DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is focused on developing low-cost, highly efficient SOFC power systems that are capable of simultaneously producing electric power, from either natural gas or coal, with carbon capture capabilities. Research is directed towards the technologies that are critical to the commercialization of SOFC technology. To successfully complete the development of SOFC technology from the present state to the point of commercial readiness, the SOFC Program efforts are aligned into three Key Technologies:

(1) Anode, Cathode, and Electrolyte (AEC) Development
(2) Atmospheric Pressure Systems
(3) Pressurized Systems

The AEC Development Key Technology is R&D in nature whereas the other two, Atmospheric Pressure Systems and Pressurized Systems, are focused on the development, demonstration, and deployment of SOFC power systems.

The AEC Development Key Technology consists of projects that will lead to substantially improved power density, enhanced performance, reduced degradation rate, and more reliable and robust systems. Research is focused on the technologies critical to the commercialization of SOFC technology, such as cathode performance, gas seals, interconnects, failure analysis, coal contaminants, fuel processing, and balance-of-plant components. Research is conducted at universities, national laboratories, small businesses, and other R&D organizations.

NexTech Materials Ltd. will build upon encouraging preliminary results to develop a commercially viable aluminization process that is amenable to high volume solid oxide fuel cell manufacturing. This work will leverage NexTech’s commercial process technology for applying conductive oxide protective coatings to ferritic steels – a process that has already been translated from the laboratory to pilot scale manufacturing at NexTech. It is anticipated that this experience will expedite commercialization of the aluminization process.

Project Scope and Technology Readiness Level

Under this Phase II SBIR award, researchers at NexTech Materials, Ltd. are developing coatings for metallic SOFC interconnects and balance of plant (BOP) components using a cost-effective aluminization process. In Phase I, NexTech, Ltd. demonstrated that low cost coatings for SOFC interconnects are available that meet the needs of SOFC developers. In Phase II, NexTech is performing critical process development in parallel with cost and manufacturing analyses to accelerate the demonstration of these coatings in concert with end-user evaluations.

The project will focus on Aerosol Spray Deposition (ASD) - a low cost, high-volume manufacturing process for providing metallic components with protective aluminide diffusion coatings. Requirements and specifications for the coating technology for these SOFC applications will be solicited from SOFC developers at the commencement of the project and this information will be used throughout the remainder of the project to ensure coating development is commercially focused and relevant to industrial needs. NexTech will demonstrate the commercial viability of the proposed aluminization process to provide an aluminide diffusion coating for the non-active, seal area of dual-coating metallic interconnects and as a BOP protection coating. Tasks are therefore arranged so that these two goals can be pursued in parallel paths once a down-selected aluminization process has been identified.

The Technology Readiness Level (TRL) assessment identifies the current state of readiness of the key technologies being developed under the DOE’s Clean Coal Research Program. In FY 12, this project was not assessed.

The TRL assessment process and its results including definition and description of the levels may be found in the "2012 Technology Readiness Assessment-Analysis of Active Research Portfolio".