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Institute of Energy and Climate Research

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Materials development

Developing new materials, but also improving existing ones, for solid-oxide fuel cells, thermal barrier coatings, gas separation membranes, and batteries starts with synthesis by spray pyrolysis and spray drying (aqueous and alcoholic systems) using the Pechini method or sol-gel processes.

After manufacturing a raw powder, an optimized powder can be produced by targeted heat treatment and powder processing. This can be used for the relevant application or processing technique. The equipment available for spray pyrolysis and spray drying is suitable for 1–10 kg of powder. Smaller amounts are usually manufactured by means of the Pechini method or sol-gel processes.

For solid-state fuel cells (SOFCs), mainly cathode and bond coat materials are synthesized. Examples of this are lanthanum strontium manganate (LSM), lanthanum strontium cobaltite ferrite (LSCF) and bond coat perovskite. The sols used are based on zirconium and cerium oxide.

New thermal barrier coating materials such as pyrochlore, perovskite, and aluminate are typically synthesized through solid-state reactions. In order to process the materials by thermal spraying methods, the synthesized powders are first spray-dried into free-flowing granules.

For oxygen ion conductors and hydrogen ion conductors, mainly materials with perovskite or fluorite structures are used when developing membranes. In addition to their ionic conductivity, these materials are required to possess electronic conductivity.

All oxidic battery materials, both for electrodes and for electrolytes, can be synthesized by means of the methods mentioned above. Depending on the application, these materials can be employed as nano- or micro-scale powders. Heat treatments in reducing atmospheres guarantee the correct phase formation of oxides with low-valence transition metals.