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Exceptional oxide ion conductivity at lower temperatures offers potential solution for solid-state fuel cells

Discovering exceptional oxide ion conductivity at lower temperatures
Tokyo Tech researchers demonstrated high conductivity and stability in bismuth-containing Sillén oxyhalides with triple fluorite-like layers (e.g. 10 mS/cm at 431 oC; 204 times higher conductivity than that of conventional conductors at 310 oC). Credit: Tokyo Institute of Technology

Oxide ion conductors used in solid-state fuel cells often fail to reach full potential when operating at temperatures below 500 oC, but researchers from Tokyo Tech have recently found a solution to this problem. They demonstrated high conductivity and stability in bismuth-containing Sillén oxyhalides with triple fluorite-like layers (e.g., 10 mS/cm at 431 oC; 204 times higher conductivity than that of conventional conductors at 310 oC).

Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) are known for their and improved safety compared to other types of fuel cells. One of the key factors in SOFC performance is the : the oxide ion conductor. Its excellent electrochemical properties make it an ideal electrolyte not only for SOFC applications but also for solid oxide electrolyzer cells (SOECs), sensors, and oxygen separation membranes.

Despite the significant advantages of oxide ion conductors, commonly used oxide ion conductors such as yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) require extremely high operating temperatures of 1000−700 oC. Over long periods, such high temperatures can be detrimental to SOFC performance. To prevent degradation, expensive heat-resistant alloys are used, which automatically increases the production cost of SOFCs. In addition, there is a lack of stable oxide ion conductors that exhibit a conductivity of 10−2 S cm−1 below 500 oC.

To bridge the existing gap in the stable oxide ion electrolytes with lower operating temperatures, a team of researchers from the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech), led by Professor Masatomo Yashima, recently turned their attention to Sillén oxyhalides.

In the latest Journal of the American Chemical Society study, they synthesized a series of bismuth (Bi)-containing Sillén oxyhalides and investigated their electrical and structural properties. "We chose materials containing Bi species because they are known to exhibit high oxide ion conductivity. Additionally, the parent materials Sillén oxyhalides possess triple fluorite-like layers with interstitial oxygen sites, which can lead to interstitialcy oxide ion diffusion," says Yashima.

In this study, the researchers synthesized Sillén oxychlorides with the molecular formula Bi2−xTexLuO4+x/2Cl (x = 0, 0.1, and 0.2).

The team's experiments on Bi1.9Te0.1LuO4.05Cl showed high bulk conductivity of 10 mS/cm (= 0.01 Ω−1 cm−1), which is a standard for practical use in fuel cells, at a much lower temperature of 431 oC than 644 oC of the conventional material YSZ (Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia). Bi1.9Te0.1LuO4.05Cl also exhibits high bulk conductivity of 1.5 × 10−3 S cm−1 at a low temperature of 310 °C, which is more than 200 times higher than that of YSZ.

This behavior was attributed to the low activation energy. Further analysis using neutron diffraction experiments, DFT calculations, and revealed that the low activation energy and high conductivity emerge due to the presence of interstitialcy oxide ion diffusion in the triple fluorite-like layer of Sillén oxychlorides.

Apart from excellent oxide ion conductivity, Bi1.9Te0.1LuO4.05Cl also exhibited high electrical conductivity independent of the oxygen partial pressure at 431 °C, which indicated the presence of an electrolyte domain. It also maintained high chemical stability under CO2 flow at 400 °C and ambient air at 600 and 400 °C.

The results of this study demonstrated that triple fluorite-like layers of Sillén oxyhalides can be used to develop high ionic conductors at temperatures below 500 °C, solving a long-standing problem with oxide ion conductors. The high ionic and and chemical stability of Bi1.9Te0.1LuO4.05Cl may open new avenues for the development of superior oxide ion conductors with a triple fluorite-like layer.

"Solid oxide fuel cells are being widely accepted as the new-age energy source, but the cost is high due to their high operating temperature. Through this research, we have developed new oxide ion conductors, which could significantly lower the and reduce their cost," concludes Yashima.

More information: Nachi Ueno et al, High Conductivity and Diffusion Mechanism of Oxide Ions in Triple Fluorite-Like Layers of Oxyhalides, Journal of the American Chemical Society (2024). DOI: 10.1021/jacs.4c00265

Citation: Exceptional oxide ion conductivity at lower temperatures offers potential solution for solid-state fuel cells (2024, April 10) retrieved 27 May 2024 from https://techxplore.com/news/2024-04-exceptional-oxide-ion-temperatures-potential.html
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