Project No: FWP-49071
Performer: Argonne National Laboratory


Shailesh Vora
Technology Manager
National Energy Technology Laboratory
626 Cochrans Mill Road
P.O. Box 10940, MS 922-204
Pittsburgh, PA 15236-0940
(412) 386-7515

Briggs White
Project Manager
National Energy Technology Laboratory
3610 Collins Ferry Road
P.O. Box 880, MS P03B
Morgantown, WV 26507-0880
(304) 285-5437

Paul Fuoss
Principal Investigator
Argonne National Laboratory
9700 S. Cass Avenue
Argonne, IL 60439
(630) 252-3289

Award Date:  10/01/1995
Project Date:  02/28/2014

DOE Share: $10,780,000.00
Performer Share: $0.00
Total Award Value: $10,780,000.00

Performer website: Argonne National Laboratory -

Advanced Energy Systems - Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Research and Development

Project Description

ANL will expose model cathode thin films to synchrotron X-rays to better understand the role of cathode surface chemistry, crystallography, and electronic structure. Researchers will examine the dynamic structural and chemical changes that occur at the cathode side of a fuel cell under conditions that simulate actual operating conditions. The studies being performed in this project provide the needed understanding of in situ-ex situ correlations. The results also enable the development of molecular-level models for stimulating the rational design and development of high-performance cathode materials.

Program Background and Project Benefits

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is developing the next generation of efficient fossil fuel technologies capable of producing affordable electric power with near-zero emissions. The Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) program at DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is focused on developing low-cost, highly efficient SOFC power systems that are capable of simultaneously producing electric power, from either natural gas or coal, with carbon capture capabilities. Research is directed towards the technologies that are critical to the commercialization of SOFC technology. To successfully complete the development of SOFC technology from the present state to the point of commercial readiness, the SOFC Program efforts are aligned into three Key Technologies:

(1) Anode, Cathode, and Electrolyte (AEC) Development
(2) Atmospheric Pressure Systems
(3) Pressurized Systems

The AEC Development Key Technology is R&D in nature whereas the other two, Atmospheric Pressure Systems and Pressurized Systems, are focused on the development, demonstration, and deployment of SOFC power systems.

The AEC Development Key Technology consists of projects that will lead to substantially improved power density, enhanced performance, reduced degradation rate, and more reliable and robust systems. Research is focused on the technologies critical to the commercialization of SOFC technology, such as cathode performance, gas seals, interconnects, failure analysis, coal contaminants, fuel processing, and balance-of-plant components. Research is conducted at universities, national laboratories, small businesses, and other R&D organizations.

This project focuses on developing an understanding of cathode surface phenomena to enable the development of models for the design of high performance cathode materials. Improved cell/stack life and performance will reduce operating cost and increase efficiency, resulting in reduction in the cost of electricity and reduction of CO2 emissions from the entire platform. Specifically, this project will measure the atomic and chemical state of cathode materials under typical operating conditions, correlate these measurements with ex-situ results, and develop cathode modifications that will accelerate the oxidation reduction reaction and oxygen transport to the electrolyte.

Project Scope and Technology Readiness Level

The Technology Readiness Level (TRL) assessment identifies the current state of readiness of the key technologies being developed under the DOE’s Clean Coal Research Program. In FY 12, this project was not assessed.

The TRL assessment process and its results including definition and description of the levels may be found in the "2012 Technology Readiness Assessment-Analysis of Active Research Portfolio".