Segmented cell testing for cathode parameter investigation
The increasing quality and durability of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC) state-of-the-art materials renders the long-term testing of fuel cells difficult since considerably long equipment times are needed to obtain valuable results. Moreover, reproducibility issues are common due to the high sensitivity of the performance and degradation on the testing conditions. An original segmented cell configuration has been adopted in order to carry out four tests in parallel, thus decreasing the total experimental time and ensuring the same operating conditions for the four segments. The investigation has been performed on both anode-supported cells and symmetrical Lanthanum-Strontium Manganite – Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia (LSM-YSZ) electrolyte-supported cells. In separate tests, the influence of variables like cathode thickness, current density and cathode composition on performance and degradation have been explored on anode supported cells. Furthermore, the effect of chromium poisoning has been studied on electrolyte-supported symmetric cells by contacting one segment with a chromium-iron interconnect material. Long-term polarization of the segments is controlled with a multi-channel galvanostatic device designed in-house. Electrochemical characterization has been performed through Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) at different H2 partial pressures, temperatures and bias current, effectively demonstrating the direct impact of each studied variable on the cell performance and degradation behaviour. Segmented cell testing has been proven to be an effective strategy to achieve high reproducibility for SOFC measurements since it avoids the inevitable fluctuations found in a series of successively run tests. Moreover, simultaneous testing increased n-fold the data output per experiment, implying a considerable economy of time.