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Christian Doppler Laboratory for Interfaces in Metal-Supported Electrochemical Energy Converters

Metal-supported fuel cells are characterized by mechanical stability and cheap manufacture. In order to improve performance and lifetime, the CD Laboratory is further developing electrodes and specific interfaces in a targeted manner.

Plansee SE metal-supported fuel cellLeft: Plansee SE metal-supported fuel cell of the size 150 x 81 cm. Right: MSC-stack design with sealed-in fuel cell

Metal-supported fuel cells (MSCs) have some specific advantages over anode-supported fuel cells (ASCs). The introduction of a metallic substrate leads to an improved stability of the electrochemically active functional layers with respect to mechanically, thermally, or chemically induced stresses. It further offers potential for improved thermal management, especially in the case of high heating rates, for reducing the costs for processing the fuel cells and simplifies gas-tight stack sealing. These advantages make MSCs attractive for mobile applications in particular. Among these are auxiliary power units (APUs) for on-board power supply in trucks as well as range extender for battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

Meanwhile, the technical development of MSCs can almost compete with the well-established ASC concerning attainable power densities. Although similar materials are used in the electrochemically active layers, MSC technology is currently still characterized by a considerably higher cell degradation during long-term operation. Therefore the ageing and interface phenomena responsible for cell degradation are part of ongoing scientific research.

The Christian Doppler Laboratory for Metal-Supported Electrochemical Energy Converters pursues a research and development concept which takes up the basic issues of MSC technology. The aim of the project, based on a fundamental understanding of MSC-specific ageing and interface phenomena, is to demonstrate the long-term stability of MSC technology for more than 10,000 hours under the boundary conditions of an APU. In close cooperation with the project partners at TU Wien and the Austrian industrial companies Plansee SE and AVL List GmbH, the following topics are being investigated:

Cross section a Plansee SE MSCCross section a Plansee SE MSC and schematic view of the functional layers in the cell

Development of high-performance cathodes: This work package pursues various approaches to improve coat bonding of the cathode (optimizing sintering parameters and sintering atmospheres, nanostructuring, sintering aids...). Power density and reliability is further improved by introducing alternative cathode materials and processing routes. Furthermore, the degradation of the cathode caused by the Cr species is to be resolved and consequently reliably avoided.

Development of sulfur-tolerant anodes: TU Wien is in charge of this work package. Therein the mechanisms of sulfur-related ageing of cermet anodes containing Ni and alternative anode materials are being developed. Here, Forschungszentrum Jülich contributes significantly in developing suitable processing routes for novel anode materials and concepts.

Tailored interfaces: In order to reliably prevent metal-supported anodes from rapid ageing, a diffusion barrier between the metal substrate and the anode is obligatory. In this work package, the focus is on cheap processes to deposit this barrier. Additionally, implementation of new material concepts with improved properties in terms of chemical stability and electrical conductivity is addressed. Furthermore the oxidation behavior of the metal substrate is examined in a systematic study.

The Christian Doppler Laboratory is funded to equal degrees by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (BMWFW) and the industrial partners involved.

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