We all know that fuel cells are cool, hip and happening right now. You can’t shake a stick without hitting a news story about the newest breakthrough in fuel cell technology. But, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is adding to this list by developing a high temperature solid oxide fuel cell with a structure that moves the oxygen through at measurably cooler temperatures.
By cooling the fuel cell with chilly oxygen atoms, both operating cost is reduced and reliability is enhanced. Now high temperature solid-oxide fuel cells (SOFC) are not usually associated with cars and other vehicles outside of Rolls Royce, Volkswagen (PAFC) and the Navy unmanned underwater devices that use them.
But, the bigger news is that this new technology may be a boon for the larger stationary fuel cell marketplace. Stationary SOFC using cool oxygen could create power in the 100 MW range, or enough to power a small city, airport or military operation.
University of Liverpool scientists have developed an electrolytic material for the SOFC made of lanthanum, strontium, gallium and oxygen, which will aid in faster startup times, unlike other comparable stationary fuel cells, that could take hours for startup.