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Home > Press > Artificial diamonds may make fuel cells more affordable

Oxygen (red spheres) migrates from one vacancy to another inside the scandia-doped cubic zirconia. The cations the oxygen must brush past are marked by the letter E.
Oxygen (red spheres) migrates from one vacancy to another inside the scandia-doped cubic zirconia. The cations the oxygen must brush past are marked by the letter E.

Abstract:
Using specialized cubic zirconia or artificial diamonds, scientists from Nanjing Normal University in China and DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory created a membrane that could drop the temperature inside solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs).

Artificial diamonds may make fuel cells more affordable

Richland, WA | Posted on May 11th, 2010

Lowering the temperature means these cells could be built from less expensive materials.

Currently, the temperature inside SOFCs is about 1000 degrees Celsius. With this much heat, the cells must be constructed using very durable, very expensive ceramics. Lower temperatures mean the cells could be built from inexpensive stainless steel. The trick to dropping the temperature, and thus the cost, is the membrane at the heart of the cell. The team's new scandia-doped cubic zirconia can work at temperatures as low as 650C.

This work was done at DOE's EMSL, a national scientific user facility.

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About Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory
EMSL is funded by DOE's Office of Biological Research, which supports world-class research in the biological, chemical, and environmental sciences to provide innovative solutions to the nation's environmental challenges as well as those related to energy production. EMSL's distinctive focus on integrating computational and experimental capabilities as well as collaborating among disciplines yields a strong, synergistic scientific environment. Bringing together experts and state-of-the-art instruments critical to their research under one roof, EMSL has helped thousands of researchers use a multidisciplinary, collaborative approach to solve some of the most important national challenges in energy, environmental sciences, and human health. These challenges cover a wide range of research, including synthesis, characterization, theory and modeling, dynamical properties, and environmental testing.

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Contacts:
Kristin Manke
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