The solid oxide cell (SOC) is able to convert excess renewable electricity to green gas, which can be seasonally stored without loss of energy. It can run in both electrolysis mode and fuel cell mode, so it is also capable of converting gas back to electricity with high efficiency.
The conventional SOC is composed of a ceramic/metallic support layer consisting of nickel and yttria-stabilized zirconia, and the whole cell is usually sintered at high temperature, 1200-1400 °C, with multiple steps. Decreasing the operating temperature is seen as the market-enabling breakthrough for the technology, so cutting edge research and development of SOCs focus on this objective. Lower operating temperature decreases costs and complexity of the surrounding components (the so-called balance-of-plant), increases life-time of the cells, allows for using cheap steel as the support layer, and internal methanation is also possible at lower temperature. In order to decrease the operating temperature, it is advantageous to also decrease the sintering temperature and the number of sintering steps.
In this project, we are aiming at firing the cell at a single step with a low temperature below 1000 °C. We are working with a novel cell design with steel mesh as the supporting layer. We have already made considerable progress towards our goals, and you would be continuing the efforts. Specifically you would work on depositing a 1-2 µm thin layer of Gd-doped Ceria and/or Yttrium-stabilized Zirconia using electrolytic deposition on novel electrodes supported by steel meshes. The ceramic layer would subsequently be sintered in reducing atmospheres, and tested electrochemically in advanced testing rigs.
During the project you will be working in our excellent labs and can subsequently add the following skills to your resumé; ceramic processing (making slurries), electrolytic and electrophoretic deposition, high-temperature sintering, electron microscopy, and if all goes well; electrochemical testing. This is an experimental, hands-on project with lots of interesting possibilities; you will gain a lot of lab experience and become confident using multiple different techniques.
Lab experience is preferred, but not required as you will be supervised personally in the lab in the beginning. Some general understanding of chemistry and physics is required, but most importantly you must be a quick learner.
General grasp of chemistry and physics