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Micro-modeling and study of the impact of microstructure on the performance of solid oxide fuel cell electrodes Open Access


Other title
triple phase boundary
solid oxide fuel cell
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Abbaspour Gharamaleki, Ali
Supervisor and department
Luo, Jingli (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Chuang, Karl (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Examining committee member and department
Nandakumar, Krishnaswamy(Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Kumar, Amit (Mechanical Engineering)
Karan, Kunal (Chemical Engineering)
Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
As the demand for green energy and fuel cells grows, more attention is drawn towards Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs). Random and complex structure of composite electrodes and underlying electrochemical process has not been completely unveiled yet and further study is required to acquire more understanding. Modeling in this regard plays an important role as it pinpoints key parameters in optimum design of the cell without resorting to costly and uncertain experiments which might even lead to misinterpretations due to random nature of experimental data. The aim of this work is to develop a new rigorous model to study the structure performance relationship of (SOFC) composite electrodes. The work has been conducted in two phases, a two-dimensional continuous approach and three-dimensional discrete model. A new two-dimensional, geometrical model which captures the inhomogeneous nature of the location of electrochemical reactions based on random packing of electronic and ionic conducting particles has been developed. The results show that the concentration of oxygen inside the cathode in the two-dimensional model is not only a function of the electrode depth but also changes along the width of the electrode. Furthermore the effect of composition of the electrode on the length of three phase boundary (TPB) and total polarization resistance has been demonstrated. A parametric study of the effect of the conductivity of ionic conductor and diffusion coefficient on the performance of the electrode has been given. To make a more realistic analysis, a three-dimensional reconstruction of (SOFC) composite electrodes was developed to evaluate the performance and further investigate the effect of microstructure on the performance of electrodes. To enhance connectivity between particles and increase the length of TPB, sintering process is mimicked by enlarging particles to certain degree. Geometrical characteristics such as length of TBP and active contact area as well as porosity can easily be calculated using the current model. Electrochemical process is simulated using resistor-network model and complete Butler-Volmer equation is used to deal with charge-transfer process on TBP. The model shows that TPBs are not uniformly distributed across the electrode and location of TPBs as well as amount of electrochemical reaction is not homogeneous. Effects of particle size, electrode thickness, particle size ratio, electron and ion conductor conductivities and rate of electrochemical reaction on overall electrochemical performance of electrode are investigated.
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.
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