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Tungsten Carbide-based Anodes for Direct Methane Solid Oxide Fuel Cells Open Access


Other title
Tungsten Carbide
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Torabi Tehrani, Alireza
Supervisor and department
Etsell, Thomas (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Examining committee member and department
Nychka, John (Chemical anf Materials Engineering, University of Alberta)
Luo, Jingli (Chemical anf Materials Engineering, University of Alberta)
Cadien, Ken (Chemical anf Materials Engineering, University of Alberta)
McDermott, Mark (Chemistry, University of Alberta)
Kesler, Olivera (Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto)
Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering
Materials Engineering
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This work is focused on development of tungsten carbide-based materials as alternative anodes for direct utilization of methane in solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs). Not only were the capabilities of the anodes highlighted, but the challenges were also stressed. First, the impact of porous support microstructure on the electrochemical performance of infiltrated electrodes in SOFCs was investigated. Five distinctly different porous YSZ supports were developed and the influence of size, connectivity and distribution of the pores as well as the configuration of YSZ particles on the surface area and three phase boundary length was analyzed. Next, the electrochemical characteristics and chemical stability of WC-based anodes were investigated. Two different cells were developed based on a conventional WC-YSZ composite anode and a WC infiltrated porous YSZ supported anode. It was shown that the former cannot be used as an alternative anode because of catastrophic changes in anode microstructure. The latter, however, performed rather stably with no catastrophic degradation. While WC-YSZ anodes were resistant to carbon formation under CH4, the fuel was poorly activated. Upon the addition of CeO2 and Ru promoters, the performance was remarkably boosted and the chemical stability of WC was highly improved. Finally, cells based on Ni-CeO2-WC-YSZ anodes were studied. Symmetrical cell study showed that the Ni modified electrode performed stably with methane at 850°C under open circuit condition with no carbon formation. Moreover, the fuel cell results revealed that not only did the anode operate steadily with a reasonable performance in methane fuel, but the stability of the carbide phase was well maintained. The cell also successfully experienced an oxidation-reduction-recarburization cycle. This study indicates that the Ni modified WC-based anodes are compatible with methane fuel, giving reasonable and stable performance.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
A. Torabi, T. H. Etsell, “Ni Modified WC-based Anode Materials for Direct Methane Solid Oxide Fuel Cells”, Journal of Electrochemical Society, in press (2012)A. Torabi, T. H. Etsell, N. Semagina and P. Sarkar, “Electrochemical behaviour of tungsten carbide-based materials as candidate anodes for solid oxide fuel cells”, Electrochimica Acta, 67 (2012) 172A. Torabi, A. R. Hanifi, T. H. Etsell and P. Sarkar, “Effects of porous support microstructure on performance of infiltrated electrodes in solid oxide fuel cells”, Journal of Electrochemical Society, 159 (2012) B201

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