Goal Oriented Mesh Adaptivity in Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Thin Film Models



SOFC is an electrochemical conversion device that produces electricity directly from fuel. It requires high temperature around 800-1000 C. Thus it requires the electrolyte to be a thin and solid ceramic material for oxygen ions. The charge carrier in SOFC is oxygen. At the cathode, the oxygen molecules from the air are split into oxygen ions. The oxygen ions are then transported through the electrolyte and combine with hydrogen at the anode, releasing two electrons per hydrogen molecule. The electrons travel an external circuit providing electric power and producing by-product heat. SOFCs are among the most promising devices for clean and efficient fuel generation and electric power production from both traditional and renewable energy sources that convert the chemical energy stored in a fuel into electrical energy. Additionally, a SOFC has the flexibility to operate on many different fuels beyond hydrogen, such as methanol, ethanol, methane, propane, coal-derived syngas, or even diesel reformats. Among the components of a SOFC, the cathode materials presents perhaps the most significant technical barrier to creating an efficient, economic, and environmentally friendly technology that makes better use of readily available fuels. The goal of this work is to develop advanced modeling tools to understand the chemistry and the physics of SOFC advanced cathodes. While the main aim of the project is purely scientific, the following aspects of fuel cell technology will be addressed:
  1. Improving the durability of SOFC stacks by supplying a broad understanding of degradation processes in steady-state and transient operation. The degradation is likely to be due to impurity or dopant segregation.
  2. Understanding the elementary steps of oxygen reactions at the cathode and its link with impurity or dopant segregation in order to develop high power density of SOFC cells using novel high performance cathodes.
  3. Searching and designing novel cathode materials and optimizing microstructures by developing ``fast'' first-principle algorithms for new cathodes.
The objective of this project is to develop an adaptive finite element method for modeling the thin film solid oxide fuel cell cathode