MCT Produces Nanomaterials for Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

April 2, 2003 – MicroCoating Technologies (MCT) has recently developed a unique solution-based Combustion Chemical Vapor Condensation (CCVC) process. The process (NanoSpraySM) is enabled by MCTs patented atomizer, the Nanomiser Device, that is used to form sub-micron sprays of liquid solutions at rates suitable for high volume production of nanoparticles with controlled composition, size, and morphology. MCT internationally sells more than 25 complex mixed metal oxides and metal nanoparticles as well as research and development services for nanopowders.

Fuel cells have proven to provide clean and highly efficient energy. For one type of fuel cell, proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells, reduced manufacturing costs and the building of necessary infrastructure (fuel source) are the primary impediments to wide spread commercialization. Unlike PEM fuel cells, however, solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) can run on a wide range of commonly used hydrocarbon fuels. Thus, only reduced manufacturing costs stand in the way of SOFC commercialization. Recent MCT innovations are leading the way to solving these necessary cost reductions.

For solid oxide fuel cells, MCTs NanoSpraySM Process can produce advanced compositions such as CeO2 (ceria), Ce0.8Sm0.2O2-x (samarium-doped ceria), Ce0.8Gd0.2O2-x (gadolinium-doped ceria), and LaSrGdMn-oxide as nanopowders, with an average particle size below 20 nm. When compared to micron-size electrolyte powders, nano-sized ceria and doped ceria powders are superior for applications in SOFC electrolytes by enabling lower sintering temperatures and much higher performance at lower operating temperatures. Lowering fuel cell operating temperatures with high power density allows low cost commodity materials to be used to make the fuel cell, which, in turn, dramatically reduces the cost of manufacturing.

MCT can also produce nanostructured electrodes for SOFC applications, either by screen-printing of MCTs nanoparticles or by one-step deposition (CCVD) of electrode material on electrolyte substrates. MCT has achieved significant progress in developing intermediate temperature (IT)-SOFC electrolytes using samarium-doped ceria, (SDC), as an electrolyte. Cu-SDC anodes and Sm0.5Sr0.5Ox cathodes with columnar structure have been produced directly by CCVD without additional sintering. In fact, MCT has the highest power density for any SOFC at 600C, which was obtained with a Cu-SDC/SDC/ SSC cell operating on H2 and CH4, producing 0.82 and 0.51 W/cm2, respectively.

MCT currently sells a variety of nanopowders and is in position to becoming a major, low cost supplier of nanomaterials and layers to the very promising SOFC market.