Nickel/yttria stabilized zirconia (YSZ) electrodes are affecting the overall performance of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) in general and strongly contribute to the cell resistance in case of novel metal supported SOFCs in particular. The electrochemical fuel conversion mechanisms in these electrodes are, however, still only partly understood. In this study, micro-structured Ni thin film electrodes on YSZ with 15 different geometries are utilized to investigate reaction pathways for the hydrogen electro-oxidation at Ni/YSZ anodes. From electrodes with constant area but varying triple phase boundary (TPB) length a contribution to the electro-catalytic activity is found that does not depend on the TPB length. This additional activity could clearly be attributed to a yet unknown reaction pathway scaling with the electrode area. It is shown that this area related pathway has significantly different electrochemical behavior compared to the TPB pathway regarding its thermal activation, sulfur poisoning behavior, and H2/H2O partial pressure dependence. Moreover, possible reaction mechanisms of this reaction pathway are discussed, identifying either a pathway based on hydrogen diffusion through Ni with water release at the TPB or a path with oxygen diffusion through Ni to be a very likely explanation for the experimental results.
Journal of Power Sources – Elsevier
Published: Mar 15, 2018
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