PITA Fiscal Year 2007 Projects

Nanotechnology

Nanoscale Mechanical and Electrochemical Degradation of SOFC Interconnects and Cathodes
Fuel cells are electrochemical devices that allow the use of hydrogen as a fuel to generate electricity. They are efficient and environmentally clean. Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) are a promising type of fuel cell targeted for use in large power applications. SOFC development is a key goal of current government efforts to encourage the use of alternative energy resources. Several basic science and engineering aspects of fuel cells must be better understood to develop cost-efficient SOFCs. Research, development, and manufacturing of SOFC components have significant potential to become part of Pennsylvania’s future high technology economic development. This PITA project targets the development of interconnect and cathode components for cost-efficient SOFCs. It will leverage existing and pending DOE-funded SOFC projects by the PIs, which include researchers at Allegheny Ludlum, WVU, and NETL. Whereas DOE funding has targeted specific capabilities and single PIs to advance their mission, the goal of PITA support will be to seed a multidisciplinary group at Carnegie Mellon studying nanoscale properties in SOFC components, able to pursue funding from other agencies for collaborative projects.

Both nanoscale materials processing and nanoscale materials characterization methods will be developed in this work. This project will enable the development of nano-scale indentation methods to probe interface mechanical properties for next generation interconnects and interconnect/cathode subcells. It will also enable the use of nanoscale thin film deposition and patterning methods to generate model cathode structures to determine the basic mechanisms that lead to enhanced cathode activity. Interconnect alloy samples will be provided by Allegheny Ludlum (ATI). NETL will provide cathode specimens and has offered its facilities for exposing coated interconnect, cathode and interconnect/cathode specimens to simulated fuel cell conditions. The researchers at CMU will develop coatings (Salvador) and test coatings for their mechanical properties (Beuth) and electrochemical properties (Kumta), comparing them to known systems.