Performance analysis of new cathode materials for molten carbonate fuel cells

C. Paoletti, M. Carewska, R. Lo Presti, S. Mc Phail, E. Simonetti, F. Zaza

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The slow dissolution of the lithiated nickel oxide cathode represents one of the main causes of performance degradation in molten carbonate fuel cells (MCFC). Two main approaches were studied in ENEA laboratories to overcome this problem: protecting the nickel cathode covering it by a thin layer of a material with a low solubility in molten carbonate and stabilizing the nickel cathode doping it with iron and magnesium. Among several materials, due to its low solubility and good conductivity, lithium cobaltite was chosen to cover the nickel cathode and slow down its dissolution. A nickel electrode covered with a thin layer of lithium cobaltite doped with magnesium, was fabricated by complex sol-gel process. To simplify electrode preparation, no thermal treatments were made after covering to produce lithium cobaltite, and during the cell start-up LiMg0.05Co0.95O2 was obtained in situ. To stabilize the nickel cathode, metal oxides Fe2O3 and MgO were chosen as dopant additives to be mixed with NiO powder in a tape-casting process (Mg0.05Fe0.01Ni0.94O). On the prepared materials TGA analysis, morphological analysis by scanning electron microscopy (SEM-EDS) and electrical conductivity measurements were carried out. A conventional nickel cathode, the nickel cathode covered by lithium cobaltite precursors and the nickel cathode stabilized by iron and magnesium oxides were each tested in a 100 cm2 fuel cell. Polarization curves and internal resistance (iR) measurements were acquired during the cell lifetime (1000 h) and the effect of gas composition variation on the cell performance was studied. From a comparison with the conventional nickel cathode it can be observed that the new materials have similar performance and show a good potential stability during the cell operating time. From the post-test analysis both the nickel cathode covered by lithium cobaltite and the nickel cathode doped with iron and magnesium seem to succeed in reducing nickel dissolution. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292 - 297
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Power Sources
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2009


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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