High-Temperature Chemistry in Solid Oxide Fuel Cells: In Situ Optical Studies
Solid oxide fuels cells (SOFCs) are promising devices for versatile and efficient power generation with fuel flexibility, but their viability is contingent upon understanding chemical and material processes to improve their performance and durability. Newly developed in situ optical methods provide new insight into how carbon deposition varies with different hydrocarbon and alcohol fuels and depends on operating conditions. Some findings, such as heavier hydrocarbon fuels forming more carbon than lighter fuels, are expected, but other discoveries are surprising. For example, methanol shows a greater tendency to form carbon deposits than methane at temperatures below 800 °C, and kinetically controlled steam reforming with ethanol at high temperatures (?800 °C) is less detrimental to SOFC performance than operating the device with dry methanol as the fuel. In situ optical techniques will continue to provide the chemical information and mechanistic insight that is critical for SOFCs to become a viable energy conversion technology.