Reversible Protonic Ceramic Cell

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- Reversible operation of solid oxide cells will significantly increase market penetration capability of the solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) due to the production of hydrogen and electricity at different operating modes. It can potentially address the energy storage grand challenge by leveraging hydrogen as the energy carrier medium. The protonic ceramic electrochemical cell (PCEC) is an emerging and attractive technology that allows such conversion from the conventional high temperature (>800o C) to intermediate temperatures (400-650o C). Reduced operating temperatures can significantly improve the cell/stack durability, minimize stack sealing problems, enable the use of less expensive materials (e.g., ferritic stainless steels for interconnect), and improve response to rapid startup and repeat thermal cycling needs. Furthermore, when operated for hydrogen production, the PCECs can overcome the problems that the conventional oxygen-ion conducting electrolysis cells face, including the mixture of hydrogen and steam, severe delamination of electrodes at high current densities, and partial oxidation of the Ni-based electrode.

  • With reduced operating temperatures, highly active, robust and durable electrodes are needed for both electrolysis and fuel cell operation. Researchers at INL have discovered a new electrode material that has excellent electrocatalytic activity toward water oxidation and oxygen reduction reactions, which are dominating factors for these two modes of operation, respectively.
  • The new INL electrode material demonstrates remarkable triple conductivity (H+-O2--e-), confirmed by a series of experiments (e.g., hydration/dehydration measurement, thermogravimetric analysis, hydrogen/oxygen permeation test, Fourier transform infrared spectrometry, oxygen nonstoichiometric characterization) and modeling (density function theory), thus resulting in good electrochemical performance. In electrolysis mode, the high current density of 1.18 A cm2 is achieved at electrolysis voltage of 1.3 V and 600° C when water is supplied as the reactant. The hydrogen generated in electrolysis mode can be instantaneously converted into electricity by switching to the fuel cell working mode.

Illustration 1: A schematic of a reversible proton-conducting electrochemical cell (r-PEC) operating under both fuel cell and electrolysis cell modes.


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  • Name:
    Andrew Rankin
  • Type of entry:
    Team members:
    Dong Ding, Hanping Ding, Wei Wu, Chao Jiang
  • Profession:
  • Dong is inspired by:
    Dr. Dong Ding is a senior staff engineer/scientist in the directorate of Energy and Environmental Science & Technology at Idaho National Laboratory, leading the chemical processing group of 21 researchers in the electrochemical area. He is a principal investigator for multi-projects including direct funded and LDRD. Dr. Ding is a technical lead of HydroGEN of Energy Materials Network under the DOE-Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)-Fuel Cell Technology Office. His lab has fully equipped capabilities of HT roll-to-roll (HT-R2R), solid oxide additive manufacturing (SOAM), high throughput materials testing (HTMT), elevated temperature electrocatalysis (ETEC), advanced synthesis and bulk supply of powders (ASBSP) as well as electrode engineering and diagnosis (EED). Dr. Ding is also an affiliate faculty and adjunct professor in the Departments of Chemical & Materials Engineering at New Mexico State University and University of Idaho, respectively. Prior to joining INL, he was Sr. Materials Engineer at Redox Power Systems in Maryland. Dr. Ding received his doctorate in material science at the University of Science & Technology of China (USTC), where he also earned a bachelor’s in materials chemistry. He was a postdoctoral fellow at West Virginia and National Energy Technology Lab (NETL) in Morgantown, W.V. (2009-2010) and at Georgia Institute of Technology (2010-2014). Dr. Ding has over 90 peer-reviewed publications with an H index of 35 where 3 are highly cited (ESI) and 32 have an impact factor >10. He also holds 3 US patent and 11 patent applications. Dr. Ding served as an editorial board member for Journal of Power Sources Advances. He received several prestigious awards including the Most Promising Asian American Engineer of the Year (AAEOY) 2020 and Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) far West Awards in the category of Outstanding Technology Development. His current research interests relate to INL’s two primary initiatives: advanced design and manufacturing (ADM) and integrated energy systems (IES), including natural gas upgrading, high temperature electrolysis, advanced manufacturing of solid oxide cells/stacks, CO2 conversion, ammonia electrosynthesis, fuel cells, electrocatalysis, and batteries.
  • Patent status: