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Research Papers

# Surface Scale Formation on Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Proximal Balance of Plant Components

[+] Author and Article Information
Kirk Gerdes1

National Energy Technology Laboratory, Morgantown, WV 26507

Christopher Johnson

National Energy Technology Laboratory, Morgantown, WV 26507

1

Present address: West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 6(1), 011018 (Nov 12, 2008) (5 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2971195 History: Received June 15, 2007; Revised September 27, 2007; Published November 12, 2008

## Abstract

Chromium containing alloys used as solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) interconnects can generate volatile chrome species that deposit as $Cr2O3(s)$ at the SOFC cathode/electrolyte interface under modest current densities $(∼0.5 A/cm2)$. Deposition of chromic oxide at this interface increases overpotential losses, thereby degrading fuel cell performance and efficiency. Balance of plant components have not received attention as a chromium source but can produce volatile Cr species through direct thermal contact with the hot cell stack. In this work, materials representative of BoP component alloys were exposed to dry air at temperatures between $600°C$ and $800°C$ for 72 h. The material classes tested include austenitic steel, ferritic steel, alumina formers, silica formers, and a specialty ferritic with elevated alumina and silica content. The surface scales formed on each alloy were identified using X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. Thin surface scales were formed that included Cr-, Fe-, Al-, and Si-oxides as well as Mn–Cr spinel. The surface composition estimated from the analytical data is used to thermodynamically calculate the abundance of volatile chromium species over the alloys. Using the calculated vapor composition and assumed rate efficiencies, it is possible to calculate the mass of $Cr2O3$ that will deposit on the SOFC surface. Up to $4.3 cm2$ of SOFC active area can be deactivated in 2000 h of operation assuming a 1% efficiency of volatilization of chrome species and a 1% efficiency of deposition of $Cr2O3$. This is estimated to be approximately 5% of the starting active area of an $∼20 W$ SOFC. Degradation of SOFC performance is expected to scale almost linearly with stack size.

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## Figures

Figure 1

SEM photograph, XRD scan, and EDS point measurements of as-received AISI Type 316

Figure 2

SEM photograph, XRD scan, and EDS point measurements of AISI Type 316 treated for 72 h at 700°C. Surface morphology change is apparent.

Figure 3

Mol volatile CrO3 generated per cm2 alloy surface area per minute as a function of temperature for each of the alloys exposed to dry air at 1 atm for 72 h

Figure 4

Mol CrO3 generated per cm2 alloy surface area per minute as a function of temperature for each of the alloys exposed to humidified air at 1 atm for 72 h

Figure 5

Estimate of the deactivated SOFC area as a function of the efficiency of chromium evolution from the surface of the balance of plant alloy. Alloy is exposed to humidified air at 800°C for 2000 h.

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