The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) has selected 16 projects to receive $10.2 million in funding to advance solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology.

The new projects were selected under funding opportunity announcement DE-FOA-000 1735, Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Prototype System Testing and Core Technology Development, which supports development of reliable and robust SOFC technology for first-of-a-kind fuel cell systems.

The applied research projects will address the technical issues facing the cost and reliability of SOFC technology and conduct field testing of an integrated prototype system project intended to validate the solutions to those issues. The projects fall under two distinct topic areas.

Topic Area 1—SOFC Prototype System Testing

  • LGFCS SOFC Prototype System Testing—LG Fuel Cell Systems (North Canton, OH) will deploy a 250-kilowatt integrated fuel cell system on a site provided by Stark State College in North Canton, Ohio. The system will operate on natural gas and connect directly to the electric grid. The prototype SOFC power system will incorporate current technologies and operate under a range of environmental conditions for at least 5,000 hours to assess progress of system durability, performance, and operating cost.

DOE Funding: $5,696,566; Non-DOE Funding: $1,424,142; Total Funding: $7,120,708

Topic Area 2—Core Technology Development

  • Core-Shell Heterostructures as Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Electrodes—Boston University (Boston, MA) will research ways to synthesize and deploy core-shell heterostructures as SOFC cathodes that will improve SOFC performance by increasing oxygen reduction rates and improving cathode resistance to degradation.

DOE Funding: $300,000; Non-DOE Funding: $75,000; Total Funding: $375,000

  • Self-Cleaning Cathodes for Endurance to Chromium Poisoning— Boston University (Boston, MA) will evaluate chemical and electrochemical cathode self-cleaning and performance recovery processes. The project team will test, validate, and optimize these processes as possible means to clean chromium oxide deposits formed in the cathode during cell testing.

DOE Funding: $300,000; Non-DOE Funding: $75,000; Total Funding: $375,000

  • Operating Stresses and Their Effects on Degradation of LSM-Based SOFC Cathodes—Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH) will conduct research to understand how selected operational parameters affect the performance of SOFCs, with a focus on operational parameters affecting cathode performance.

DOE Funding: $300,000; Non-DOE Funding: $75,500; Total Funding: $375,500

  • Highly Active and Contaminant-Tolerant Cathodes for Durable Solid Oxide Fuel Cells—Georgia Tech (Atlanta, GA) will focus on the development of highly oxidation-tolerant anodes to reduce reoxidation caused by undesired fuel disruption, depletion, or gas leakage in SOFCs. The ultimate goal of this work is to establish a scientific basis for rational design of durable, high-performance anodes with robust oxidation tolerance.

DOE Funding: $300,000; Non-DOE Funding: $75,000; Total Funding: $375,000

  • Degradation and Performance Studies of ALD-Stabilized Nano-Composite SOFC Cathodes—Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI.) aims to demonstrate the best-performing, most-stable, intermediate-temperature SOFC cathodes using optimized atomic layer deposition (ALD) overcoats to stabilize cathode performance.

DOE Funding: $300,000; Non-DOE Funding: $77,763; Total Funding: $377,763

  • Ultra-High Temperature Anode Recycle Blower for Solid Oxide Fuel Cell—Mohawk Innovative Technology (Albany, NY) aims to develop an oil-free anode recycle blower capable of using uncooled SOFC exhaust gas directly at temperatures up to 700 °C.

DOE Funding: $299,055; Non-DOE Funding: $74,764; Total Funding: $373,819

  • Improving Ni-based SOFC Anode Resilience and Durability Through Secondary Phase Formation—Montana State University (Bozeman, MT) will develop strategies that use secondary phase materials added to traditional nickel-based cermet electrodes to enhance SOFC anode durability and performance.

DOE Funding: $300,000; Non-DOE Funding: $75,000; Total Funding: $375,000

  • High Throughput, In-Line Coating Metrology Development for SOFC Manufacturing—Redox Power Systems (College Park, MD) will develop critical high-throughput, in-line metrology techniques for evaluating protective coatings for SOFCs.

DOE Funding: $299,984; Non-DOE Funding: $74,996; Total Funding: $374,980

  • Development of Agile and Cost Effective Routes for Manufacturing Reliable Ceramic Components for SOFC Systems—Saint-Gobain Research & Development Center (Northboro, MA) will develop and evaluate novel forming methods (3D printing and gel casting) for producing ceramic SOFC components that will enable agile and cost-effective manufacturing.

DOE Funding: $287,217; Non-DOE Funding: $71,804; Total Funding: $359,021

  • Development and Validation of Low-Cost, Highly-Durable, Spinel-Based Contact Materials for SOFC Cathode-Side Contact Application—Tennessee Technological University (Cookeville, TN) will develop and validate low-cost, highly durable, spinel-based materials synthesized with a multi-component alloy precursor for SOFC cathode-side contact applications.

DOE Funding: $300,000; Non-DOE Funding: $76,960; Total Funding: $376,960

  • Advanced Anode for Internal Reforming and Thermal Management in Solid Oxide Fuel Cells—The University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT) will develop low-cost alloy anodes for distributed internal reforming of methane and other hydrocarbon fuels to increase the fuel-flexibility, reliability, and endurance of SOFCs.

DOE Funding: $300,000; Non-DOE Funding: $75,000; Total Funding: $375,000

  • Cost-Effective Stabilization of Nanostructured Cathodes by Atomic Layer Deposition— The University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA), will evaluate the conditions required to achieve reproducible atomic layer deposition (ALD) films on SOFC cathodes. The performance of the ALD-modified cells will be evaluated in both laboratory- and industrial-scale cells.

DOE Funding: $300,000; Non-DOE Funding: $75,000; Total Funding: $375,000

  • Robust Optical Sensor Technology for Real-Time Monitoring—The University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA), will develop an integrated fiber-optic sensor technology to perform real-time, high-resolution measurements to monitor operations and structural changes of SOFCs. Information provided by the fiber sensor will be used to better understand performance degradation and the causes and mechanisms of fuel cell structural changes.

DOE Funding: $300,000; Non-DOE Funding: $83,957; Total Funding: $383,957

  • Development of Lost-Cost, Robust, and Durable Cathode Materials to Support SOFC Commercialization—University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC) will develop and evaluate novel, lost-cost, durable cathode materials to support SOFC commercialization.

DOE Funding: $300,000; Non-DOE Funding: $75,000; Total Funding: $375,000

  • On-Demand Designing of Cathode Internal Surface Architecture for Dramatic Enhancement of SOFC Performance and Durability—West Virginia University (Morgantown, WV.) will modify the internal surfaces of porous composite cathodes used in commercial SOFCs using atomic layer deposition (ALD). The project team aims to improve the power density and durability of commercial cells operating at temperatures from 650–800 °C.

DOE Funding: $300,000; Non-DOE Funding: $77,177; Total Funding: $377,177

The Office of Fossil Energy funds research and development projects to reduce the risk and cost of advanced fossil energy technologies and further the sustainable use of the Nation’s fossil resources. To learn more about the programs within the Office of Fossil Energy, visit the Office of Fossil Energy website or sign up for FE news announcements. More information about the National Energy Technology Laboratory is available on the NETL website.