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Stanford University will identify correlations between performance and the microscopic surface properties of oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) active sites in state-of-the-art solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) cathodes, quantified using novel in situ spectroscopy, scattering, and microscopy techniques, while the electrochemical reactions take place under SOFC operating conditions. In particular, the characteristics of active sites that display high electrochemical activity will be identified. This fundamental knowledge will be used to rationally engineer electrode surfaces in both idealized and, later, porous lanthanum strontium cobalt ferrite (LSCF) and similar cathodes. Finally, the effort will optimize and validate the electrode modification strategies using button-cell SOFCs. 

This project relies on using three new approaches to measure cathode surface characteristics in situ: (1) X-ray spectroscopy, (2) X-ray diffraction, and (3) transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The team will utilize two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science user facilities: the Advanced Light Source (ALS) facility at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) facility (a directorate of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory operated by Stanford University) to carry out in situ X-ray experiments. A Sandia Laboratories field work proposal, FWP-12-15990 supports this work.

A schematic drawing of a heterostructured SOFC cathode depicting the variation in chemistry and structure going from the micro- to the nanoscale. At the nanometer length scale, the solid-gas interface is very different from the bulk in terms of structure, composition, and electronic structure. The backbone scaffold conducts oxygen ions and electrons to and from the electrolyte and external circuit respectively, and the electrocatalyst facilitates the surface reaction
Principal Investigator
William Chueh
Project Benefits

This project focuses on improving cathode activity by directly modifying the chemistry and structure of the nanoscale oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) active surface sites. Improved cell/stack life and performance will reduce operating cost and increase efficiency, resulting in reduction in the cost of electricity and reduction of CO2 emissions from the entire platform. Specifically, this project will identify the characteristics of active ORR sites that display high electrochemical activity, use this knowledge to engineer electrode surfaces, and optimize and validate the modification strategies.

Project ID
Leland Stanford Junior University