PARAMETERS OF A HIGH-TEMPERATURE FUEL CELL
WITH A MEMBRANE MADE FROM A NANOSIZED PRECURSOR
N. V. Borisova,
V. G. Konakov,
and N. N. Novik
Translated from Novye Ogneupory, No. 2, pp. 35 – 39, February, 2014.
Original article submitted October 29, 2013.
A membrane which has the composition 92 mol.% ZrO
and is made from a nanosized powder-precur
sor is used in a high-temperature fuel cell. Use of the membrane has made it possible to lower the working
temperature of the fuel cell to 973 K without affecting its good electrochemical characteristics: membrane re
sistivity, closed-circuit voltage, cell current.
Keywords: zirconium dioxide, fuel cell, nanoceramic, precursor, electrochemical characteristics.
Researchers are currently showing great interest in fuel
cells, i.e. devices in which the energy from a chemical reac-
tion between a fuel/reducing agent (usually hydrogen) and an
oxidizing agent (oxygen) is converted directly into electric
power [1 – 3]. The interest stems from the fact that fuel cells
have several indisputable advantages over other energy
sources, among the most important being their high environ-
mental rating and high efficiency. Although prototype units
have been developed to produce electric power , the
wide-scale use of fuel cells is problematic at the present
stage of development of the technology because new ad
vances in engineering need to be made to improve their char
acteristics and lower their production cost. Most of the stud
ies performed on fuel cells have been devoted to examining
the electrode processes and finding new catalysts to replace
the expensive platinum catalysts now being used.
Interest in studying electrolytes in fuel cells has waned
somewhat, particularly in Russia. However, this area of in
quiry has not been fully investigated, and there is still the
possibility of a major breakthrough being made by creating
new electrolytes and improving the properties of those al
ready in use. The electrolyte most commonly used in high-
temperature solid-oxide fuel cells is modified zirconium di
oxide. The modifier needs to be added in order to obtain a
fluorite-like solid solution having a high ionic (oxygen) con
ductivity. Oxides of rare-earth and alkaline-earth metals are
used as modifiers, with the classical variant being yttrium
. At the same time, zirconium dioxide modified
with yttrium oxide has several shortcomings. The main prob-
lem is the high temperature at which conductivity is acti-
vated, which makes it necessary to operate fuel cells within
the range 1273 – 1473 K.
Fuel cells that operate within the range 873 – 1073 K
have recently attracted particular interest. Such operation
would not be possible for a zircon-yttrium ceramic made by
the traditional method of solid-phase synthesis. One way of
improving the physico-chemical properties of solid electro
lytes is the use of a finely dispersed zirconium ceramic. Such
ceramics are obtained on the basis of nanosized powder-pre
cursors. Numerous methods have been proposed for obtain
ing the powder-precursors [9 – 11], but a significant number
of these procedures require expensive equipment. One of the
simplest yet most promising methods for obtaining
nanosized precursors — a method that makes it possible to
synthesize nanosized ceramics — is a variant of sol-gel syn
thesis which entails reverse co-precipitation from solutions.
This approach does not have high energy costs or require
complex equipment. However, the electrochemical charac
teristics of nanosized ceramics obtained from precursors syn
thesized with a sol-gel have not yet been adequately studied.
The research study being discussed in this article was
carried out to examine the electrochemical properties of a
fuel cell having a membrane made of a nanosized precursor.
Special attention was given to determining the structure of
the precursor, since the results might later make it possible to
Refractories and Industrial Ceramics Vol. 55, No. 1, May, 2014
1083-4877/14/05501-0058 © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media New York
St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Glass and Ceramics Scientific Research Center, St. Petersburg,