Work will increase the durability and power of solid oxide fuel cells.
TIAX today announced it has been awarded a $2 million contract from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to help advance the development of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC).
Under the contract, which is administered by the Institute’s Advanced Technology Program, TIAX will undertake a three-year project to increase the viability and commercialization of SOFC. Successful implementation of the project could allow for lower SOFC costs making them competitive with most small and stationary diesel technologies such as auxiliary power units (APU) and enabling more efficient and reliable delivery of clean electric power.
The fuel cells could be used in a wide range of applications, from APUs for trucks to residential distributed power units. Target markets are expected to be worth a combined total of $3 billion to $6 billion annually.
“Government and industry around the world have made clear that the development of efficient and affordable fuel cells is critical to the future health of our global economy and environment,” said Kenan Sahin, president of TIAX. “TIAX has been a leader in fuel cell development over the years, collaborating with companies across the energy, automotive and chemical industries to create and test new devices and systems. We are proud to continue our work in this vital area by collaborating with the National Institute of Standards and Technology to advance the commercialization of solid oxide fuel cells.”
Solid oxide fuel cells, which produce electricity from natural gas and other available fuels, have the potential to provide clean, efficient sources of power. However, current SOFC designs have a low tolerance for thermal cycling, which can make startup and shutdown of the fuel cell difficult and also lead to low power generation.
This project will identify novel interconnect materials for SOFC which have thermal characteristics matched to the rest of the fuel cell and high thermal conductivity needed for thermal cycling and tolerance to thermal variations within the fuel cell. The use of such materials would eliminate mismatched thermal expansion, a common side effect of conventional fuel cell materials. In addition, these materials will increase power and durability by minimizing internal resistance and increasing conductivity.