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SOFC SmartState Center

Technical Research Areas

Functional Materials Design

  • Design of electric, ionic, and mixed ionic/electronic conductor materials
  • Design of porous ceramics for electrochemical electrodes and catalyst foundations
  • Design of defect chemistry and nano-morphology
  • Design of membranes for transport and separation
  • Design of ceramic and polymer proton conductors

Synthesis and Manufacturing

  • Fabrication of ceramic powders and substrates
  • Fabrication of nano-structured electrodes
  • Fabrication of thin film membranes
  • Infiltration, surface modification, doping, and functionalization methods
  • Sol gel, combustion, plasma spray, phase inversion, freeze tape casting, freeze drying, hierarchical void formation and other methods

Characterization

  • XCT, EDX, SIMS, XPS-SIMS, ESEM, XRD, AFM (conductive, Kelvin probe, topology)
  • Dilatometry, mass spectroscopy, gas chromatography, BET surface area, mercury porosimetry
  • EIS, electronic and ionic conductivity (micropositioner)
  • Broadband dielectric spectroscopy
  • Mechanical (static, fatigue)
  • Thermal (shock, hot/cold, environmental)
  • Electromagnetic

Applications and Systems

  • Fuel cells: SOFC, reversible SOFC/SOEC, PEM
  • Electrolyzers: SOEC
  • Membranes (ceramic, polymer)
  • Flow batteries
  • Portable power systems (prototyping)
  • Chemical electric vehicle development
  • Thermoelectric devices
  • Supercapacitors

Modeling and Simulation

  • Multiphysics, multiscale analysis of heterogeneous functional materials
  • Mechanics, durability, and prognosis of functional and structural composite materials
  • Multiphysics optimization of energy conversion systems
  • Electromagnetic and thermal shock modeling
  • Charge transport and storage modeling

Research

We are creating  energy conversion and storage systems that will accelerate our progress toward a cleaner environment and energy independence.

Our research focuses on how materials function in energy systems, including solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs)—their durability, damage tolerance, and performance over time. By designing the component parts and understanding how they interact with each other, we can predict behavior and promote the use of SOFCs in low-cost clean energy systems.

Research Objectives

We are creating systems that can advance from the laboratory to the marketplace in viable commercial applications. As technology advances to create low-cost materials with greater functionality and durability at high temperatures, SOFCs will become an increasingly affordable and attractive option for clean energy.

Our research allows us to design reactions, synthesize materials, prescribe outcomes, and create energy systems and devices that support our vision of a sustainable future.

What are solid oxide fuel cells?

SOFCs are similar to batteries, except they are constantly replenished with fuel and never run down. They are highly efficient, they don’t create noise pollution or release toxins into the environment, and they can utilize a number of different hydrocarbon fuels, such as natural gas, propane, synfuel, and hydrocarbon fuels like JP-8.

SOFCs offer the benefits of sustainable electric power without the drawbacks of other alternative energy generators. They are a convenient, portable source of clean energy, unlike solar panels or wind farms, which depend on fickle natural elements and massive infrastructure. SOFCs are inexpensive to produce and require no new infrastructure investments.

For more information about our research on SOFCs, view our achievements or read our publications.