Influence of reduction conditions of NiO on its mechanical and electrical properties
Yttria stabilized zirconia with a nickel catalyst (Ni-YSZ) is the most developed, widely used cermet anode for manufacturing Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs). Its electro-catalytic properties, mechanical durability and performance stability in hydrogen-rich environments makes it the state of the art fuel electrode for SOFCs. During the reduction stage in initial SOFC operation, the virgin anode material, a NiO-YSZ mixture, is reduced to Ni-YSZ. The volume decrease associated with the change from NiO-YSZ to Ni-YSZ creates voids and causes structural changes, which can influence the physical properties of the anode. In this work, the structural, mechanical and electrical properties of NiO samples before and after reduction in pure H2 and a mixture of 5 vol. % H2-Ar were studied. The NiO to Ni phase transformations that occur in the anode under reducing and Reduction-Oxidation (RedOx) cycling conditions and the impact on cell microstructure, strength and electrical conductivity have been examined. Results show that the RedOx treatment of the NiO samples influence on their properties controversially, due to structural transformation (formation of large amount of fine pores) of the reduced Ni. It strengthened the treated samples yielding the highest mechanical strength values of 25.7 MPa, but from another side it is resulting in lowest electrical conductivity value of 1.9×105 S m-1 among all reduced samples. The results of this investigation shows that reduction conditions of NiO is a powerful tool for influence on properties of the anode substrate.
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