Date of Thesis

5-7-2014

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Ryan Snyder

Second Advisor

Michael Gross

Abstract

Solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology has the potential to be a significant player in our future energy technology repertoire based on its ability to convert chemical energy into electrical energy. Infiltrated SOFCs, in particular, have demonstrated improved performance and at lower cost than traditional SOFCs. An infiltrated electrode comprises porous ceramic scaffolding (typically constructed from the oxygen ion conducting material) that is infiltrated with electron conducting and catalytic particles. Two important SOFC electrode properties are effective conductivity and three phase boundary density (TPB). Researchers study these electrode properties separately, and fail to recognize them as competing properties. This thesis aims to (1) develop a method to model the TPB density and use it to determine the effect of porosity, scaffolding particle size, and pore former size on TPB density as well as to (2) compare the effect of porosity, scaffolding particle size, and pore former size on TPB density and effective conductivity to determine a desired set of parameters for infiltrated SOFC electrode performance. A computational model was used to study the effect of microstructure parameters on the effective conductivity and TPB density of the infiltrated SOFC electrode. From this study, effective conductivity and TPB density are determined to be competing properties of SOFC electrodes. Increased porosity, scaffolding particle size, and pore former particle size increase the effective conductivity for a given infiltrate loading above percolation threshold. Increased scaffolding particle size and pore former size ratio, however, decreases the TPB density. The maximum TPB density is achievable between porosities of 45% and 60%. The effect of microstructure parameters are more prominent at low loading with scaffolding particle size being the most significant factor and pore former size ratio being the least significant factor.

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