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Materials 2018, 11(1), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma11010040

Study on Zinc Oxide-Based Electrolytes in Low-Temperature Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

1
Hubei Collaborative Innovation Center for Advanced Organic Chemical Materials, Faculty of Physics and Electronic Science, Hubei University, Wuhan 430062, China
2
College of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Huanggang Normal University, Huanggang 430062, China
3
Department of Energy Technology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 10044 Stockholm, Sweden
4
Department of Aeronautical & Automotive Engineering, Loughborough University, Loughborough LE11 3TU, UK
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 29 November 2017 / Revised: 23 December 2017 / Accepted: 26 December 2017 / Published: 28 December 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Zinc Oxide Nanostructures: Synthesis and Characterization)
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Abstract

Semiconducting-ionic conductors have been recently described as excellent electrolyte membranes for low-temperature operation solid oxide fuel cells (LT-SOFCs). In the present work, two new functional materials based on zinc oxide (ZnO)—a legacy material in semiconductors but exceptionally novel to solid state ionics—are developed as membranes in SOFCs for the first time. The proposed ZnO and ZnO-LCP (La/Pr doped CeO2) electrolytes are respectively sandwiched between two Ni0.8Co0.15Al0.05Li-oxide (NCAL) electrodes to construct fuel cell devices. The assembled ZnO fuel cell demonstrates encouraging power outputs of 158–482 mW cm−2 and high open circuit voltages (OCVs) of 1–1.06 V at 450–550 °C, while the ZnO-LCP cell delivers significantly enhanced performance with maximum power density of 864 mW cm−2 and OCV of 1.07 V at 550 °C. The conductive properties of the materials are investigated. As a consequence, the ZnO electrolyte and ZnO-LCP composite exhibit extraordinary ionic conductivities of 0.09 and 0.156 S cm−1 at 550 °C, respectively, and the proton conductive behavior of ZnO is verified. Furthermore, performance enhancement of the ZnO-LCP cell is studied by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS), which is found to be as a result of the significantly reduced grain boundary and electrode polarization resistances. These findings indicate that ZnO is a highly promising alternative semiconducting-ionic membrane to replace the electrolyte materials for advanced LT-SOFCs, which in turn provides a new strategic pathway for the future development of electrolytes. View Full-Text
Keywords: semiconducting-ionic conductor; solid oxide fuel cells; zinc oxide; composite electrolyte; proton conduction semiconducting-ionic conductor; solid oxide fuel cells; zinc oxide; composite electrolyte; proton conduction
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Xia, C.; Qiao, Z.; Feng, C.; Kim, J.-S.; Wang, B.; Zhu, B. Study on Zinc Oxide-Based Electrolytes in Low-Temperature Solid Oxide Fuel Cells. Materials 2018, 11, 40.

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