AsianScientist (Oct. 22, 2018) – In a study published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A, scientists in South Korea have developed a catalyst that can significantly enhance the performance of perovskite electrodes in solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC).
SOFCs have the potential to become the next major alternative energy conversion device as they allow more efficient use of abundant and inexpensive natural gas. In addition, SOFCs produce less overall carbon dioxide emissions than traditional combustion turbines—they simply combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity and water as a by-product.
However, hydrocarbon-based fuels contaminate the surface of conventional SOFC catalysts with carbon or sulfur, thereby causing their performance to deteriorate over time.
Researchers led by Professors Kim Gunatae and Jeong Hu Young at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology have found a way to overcome this problem with a bilayer perovskite structure made of cobalt and nickel. As energy-generating reactions proceed, the metals within the catalyst reform into catalytic alloys on the surface of the bulk material. This allows the catalyst to retain its function over prolonged periods of time.
The researchers further showed that their catalyst could function with methane gas as a fuel, demonstrating stable operation with no decrease in current for more than 500 hours. The researchers also confirmed that the reaction efficiency of their catalyst was four times higher than that of previously reported catalysts.
According to the authors of the study, this is the first report of catalytic materials that make alloys themselves to improve reaction efficiency.
“The newly developed metal alloy catalyst has excellent catalytic performance, which could greatly contribute to the popularization of fuel cells,” said Kim.
Source: Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology; Photo: Journal of Materials Chemistry A.
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