Wide bandgap oxides with ionic conductor operate as single-layer fuel cell

Peter Lund

Researchers at Aalto University explain underlying mechanisms of a single-layer fuel cell based on a wide bandgap oxide and ionic conductor mixture.

Nanocomposite fuel cells have recently been shown to be able to work as a 1-layer fuel cell instead of a 3-layer (cathode,electrolyte, anode) traditional fuel cell. The 1-layer fuel cell is made of a mixture of semiconducting and ionic materials which contain all functionalities of a fuel cell. Basically, such as fuel cell would have a major potential for mass production because of its simple structure. The working principle of the single layer fuel cell has been debated. Now Aalto University researchers have verified the underlying mechanisms of this fuel cell type by using wide bandgap oxide materials (LiNiZn) with gadolinium-doped ceria. The oxides work as an insulator against electrons in the material preventing short-circuting of the fuel cell. It was found that the material mixture is a protonic conductor. The test fuel cells built reached a power density of 357 mW/cm2 at 550 C without using catalytic current collectors.

The results were published in Nano Energy 53 (2018) 391-397.