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Computer simulation and experimental characterization of a tubular micro- solid oxide fuel cell Open Access


Other title
Tubular micro- Solid Oxide Fuel Cell
Experimental validation
Computational fluid dynamics
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Amiri, Mohammad Saeid
Supervisor and department
Nandakumar, Kumar (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Hayes, Robert (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Examining committee member and department
Yeung, Anthony (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Hill, Josephine (Chemical and Petroleum Engineering / University of Calgary)
Secanell, Marc (Mechanical Engineering)
Luo, Jingli (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This work is focused on a state-of-the-art tubular micro-solid oxide fuel cell (TμSOFC), ~3 millimeters in diameter and ~300 microns thick, with Ni/YSZ and LSM/YSZ composite electrodes and a YSZ electrolyte. A 2D axi-symmetric, multi-scale CFD model is developed which includes the fluid flow, mass transfer, and heat transfer within the gas channels and the porous electrodes. The electrochemical reactions are modeled within the volume of the electrodes, enabling the model to account for the extent of the reaction zone. Thermodynamic expressions are developed to estimate the single-electrode reversible heat generation and the single-electrode electromotive force of a non-isothermal electrochemical cell. The isothermal, non-isothermal, and transient models are each validated against the experimental results, and consistent with the physical reality of the TμSOFC. A novel approach is used to estimate the kinetic parameters, enabling the simulations to be used as a diagnostic tool. The model is used to gain a thorough insight about the TμSOFC. The cathode electrochemical activity and the anode support ohmic loss are identified as the two major performance bottlenecks for this cell. Including radiation is found to be essential for a physically meaningful heat transfer model. The thermoelectric effects on the cell overall electromotive force is found to be negligible. It is found that the anode reaction is always endothermic, while the cathode reaction is always exothermic, and that the temperature gradients across the cell layers are less than 0.05°C The cell transient response is found to be fast, and dominated by the thermal transients. Several physical properties used in the model are measured experimentally, indicating that that the correlations used in the literature are not always suitable, especially when new fabrication techniques are used. The conductivity of the anode support was measured to be several orders of magnitude lower than expected and very sensitive to temperature, which explains the lower than expected and occasionally degrading cell performance. A hypothesis is proposed to explain this phenomenon based on the thermal expansion effects which result in the formation and disruption of particle to particle contacts within the composite electrode.
License granted by Mohammad Saeid Amiri ( on 2010-04-10T18:33:46Z (GMT): 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 the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein 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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