A South Korean research team has developed a high-performance ceramic fuel cell that can be powered by butane fuel.
Because butane can be liquefied, making it easy to store and transport, the new technology also extends the use of ceramic fuel cells to portable and mobile applications such as electric vehicles, robots and drones.
The Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) announced that Dr. Son Ji-Won’s research team at its Energy Materials Research Center has developed a high-performance, thin-film-based ceramic fuel cell capable of operating on butane fuel at low-to-medium temperatures of 600 degrees Celsius. Work. A ceramic fuel cell is a high temperature fuel cell with an operating temperature of over 800 degrees Celsius. Low-temperature fuel cells such as polymer electrolyte fuel cells require the use of expensive platinum catalysts to compensate for the low catalytic activity.
In contrast, the high-temperature nature of ceramic fuel cells allows the use of inexpensive catalysts such as nickel. Another great advantage of high-temperature fuel cells is that in addition to pure hydrogen, multiple fuels such as LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and LNG (liquefied natural gas) with high efficiency and low emissions can be used.
Although high temperature fuel cells can use inexpensive catalysts, they still require expensive refractory materials and production techniques. Another limiting factor is that the switching process of such battery systems takes a long time due to the characteristics of high temperature operation, which limits their application to large stationary power generation systems.
When the ceramic fuel cell’s nickel catalyst is mixed with hydrocarbon fuels such as methane, propane, and butane, carbon from the fuel conversion process can deposit on the surface of the nickel, which worsens as the temperature decreases, eventually causing the cell invalid.
Dr. Son Ji-Won’s research team solved the problem by using thin-film technology, combined with high-performance secondary catalysts for easier fuel conversion. Using the deposition layers alternately formed on the secondary and primary catalysts, the team was able to efficiently place the secondary catalyst at the fuel cell electrode closest to the electrolyte, allowing for controlled incorporation of only a small amount of secondary catalyst and efficient determination of the secondary catalyst. the location of the catalyst.
The KIST research team successfully applied palladium (Pd), ruthenium (Ru), and copper (Cu) secondary catalysts with high catalytic activity at low temperatures to nanostructured fuel cell electrodes.
The researchers also confirmed that the latest thin-film-based ceramic fuel cells can operate at low and medium temperatures (500 to 600 degrees Celsius) with high performance using very cheap butane fuel.