The mechanical reliability of reversible solid oxide cell (SOC) components is critical for the development of highly efficient, durable, and commercially competitive devices. In particular, the mechanical integrity of the ceramic cell, also known as membrane electrolyte assembly (MEA), is fundamental as its failure would be detrimental to the performance of the whole SOC stack. In the present work, the mechanical robustness of an electrolyte-supported cell was determined via ball-on-3-balls flexural strength measurements. The main focus was to investigate the effect of the manufacturing process (i.e., layer by layer deposition and their co-sintering) on the final strength. To allow this investigation, the electrode layers were screen-printed one by one on the electrolyte support and thus sintered. Strength tests were performed after every layer deposition and the non-symmetrical layout was taken into account during mechanical testing. Obtained experimental data were evaluated with the help of Weibull statistical analysis. A loss of mechanical strength after every layer deposition was usually detected, with the final strength of the cell being significantly smaller than the initial strength of the uncoated electrolyte (σ0
≈ 800 MPa and σ0
≈ 1800 MPa, respectively). Fractographic analyses helped to reveal the fracture behavior changes when individual layers were deposited. It was found that the reasons behind the weakening effect can be ascribed to the presence and redistribution of residual stresses, changes in the crack initiation site, porosity of layers, and pre-crack formation in the electrode layers.
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