Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fuel Cell Efficiency May Be Improved With Material With 'Colossal Ionic Conductivity'

Date:
August 5, 2008
Source:
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Summary:
A new material characterized at the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory could open a pathway toward more efficient fuel cells. The material, a super-lattice, improves ionic conductivity near room temperature by a factor of almost 100 million, representing "a colossal increase in ionic conduction properties," according to researchers.

The molecular model of the ion-conducting material shows that numerous vacancies at the interface between the two layers create an open pathway through which ions can travel.
Credit: Image courtesy of DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

A new material characterized at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory could open a pathway toward more efficient fuel cells.

The material, a super-lattice developed by researchers in Spain, improves ionic conductivity near room temperature by a factor of almost 100 million, representing "a colossal increase in ionic conduction properties," said Maria Varela of ORNL's Materials Science and Technology Division, who characterized the material's structure with senior researcher Stephen Pennycook.

The analysis was done with ORNL's 300 kilovolt Z-contrast scanning transmission electron microscope, which can achieve aberration-corrected resolutions near 0.6 angstrom, until recently a world record. The direct images show the crystal structure that accounts for the material's conductivity.

"It is amazing," Varela said. "We can see the strained, yet still ordered, interface structure that opens up a wide pathway for ions to be conducted."

Solid oxide fuel cell technology requires ion-conducting materials -- solid electrolytes -- that allow oxygen ions to travel from cathode to anode. However, existing materials have not provided atom-scale voids large enough to easily accommodate the path of a conducted ion, which is much bigger than, for example, an electron.

"The new layered material solves this problem by combining two materials with very different crystal structures. The mismatch triggers a distortion of the atomic arrangement at their interface and creates a pathway through which ions can easily travel," Varela said.

Other fuel cell materials force ions to travel through tight pathways with few spaces for the ions to occupy, slowing their progress. Rather than forcing the ions to jump from hole to hole, the new material has "lots of vacant spaces to be occupied," said Varela, so the ions can travel much more quickly.

Unlike previous fuel cell materials, which have to achieve high temperatures to conduct ions, the new material maintains ionic conductivity near room temperatures. High temperatures have been a major roadblock for developers of fuel cell technology.

The research team with Spain's Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Universidad Politιcnica de Madrid produced the material and observed its outstanding conductivity properties, but the structural characteristics that enable the material to conduct ions so well were not known until the material was put under the ultra-high resolution microscopes at ORNL.

The paper, a collaboration between researchers at the Universities of Madrid and at ORNL, was published August 1 in Science.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "Fuel Cell Efficiency May Be Improved With Material With 'Colossal Ionic Conductivity'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 August 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080731173133.htm>.
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (2008, August 5). Fuel Cell Efficiency May Be Improved With Material With 'Colossal Ionic Conductivity'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080731173133.htm
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "Fuel Cell Efficiency May Be Improved With Material With 'Colossal Ionic Conductivity'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080731173133.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Why Did Nike Fire Most Of Its Nike FuelBand Team?

Why Did Nike Fire Most Of Its Nike FuelBand Team?

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) — Nike fired most of its Digital Sport hardware team, the group behind Nike's FuelBand device. Could Apple or an overcrowded market be behind layoffs? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) — After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) — An electric car that proponents hope will replace horse-drawn carriages in New York City has also been revealed at the auto show. (Apr. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) — It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins