In situ reduction and oxidation of nickel from solid oxide fuel cells in a Titan ETEM
Environmental transmission electron microscopy was used to characterize in situ the reduction and oxidation of nickel from a Ni/YSZ solid oxide fuel cell anode support between 300-500°C. The reduction is done under low hydrogen pressure. The reduction initiates at the NiO/YSZ interface, then moves to the center of the NiO grain. At higher temperature the reduction occurs also at the free NiO surface and the NiO/NiO grain boundaries. The growth of Ni is epitaxial on its oxide. Due to high volume decrease, nanopores are formed during reduction. During oxidation, oxide nanocrystallites are formed on the nickel surface. The crystallites fill up the nickel porosity and create an inhomogeneous structure with remaining voids. This change in structure causes the nickel oxide to expand during a RedOx cycle.