HyP3D Makes Advanced Solid Oxide Cells with 3D Printing

May 22, 24

Renewable hydrogen via reversible SOCs is promising for energy storage, but traditional ceramic manufacturing limits their efficiency and potential.

A recent article titled :” 3D printing of reversible solid oxide cell stacks for efficient hydrogen production and power generation” was published into the Journal of Power Sources.

Here, the question concerns SOC (Solid Oxide Cell) technologies, which have greatly improved, enhancing device performance and durability. However, progress at the stack level remains limited due to ceramic manufacturing constraints.

An experimental approach

“Some of the most relevant and disruptive approaches at the cell and stack level have been the flat tubular cell architectures, integrated planar cells on porous substrates proposed by Rolls-Royce…” states the article. Additionally, “Nowadays, new emerging fabrication technologies such as 3D printing allow the creation of complex-shape geometries […] opening new possibilities for developing advanced designs in SOCs and other energy technologies.”

The article discusses the exploration of an ultra-compact SOC stack concept using standard-size, 3D-printed, electrolyte-supported corrugated cells. The electrolyte-supported 3YSZ cells were produced on an industrial SLA 3D printer (Ceramaker C1000 FLEXMATIC) with a doctor blade method. CAD models of the corrugated cells were imported into the printer, which sliced them into 50 μm layers. 3YSZ slurry from 3DCERAM SINTO was deposited on the 300 × 300 mm platform, cured with a laser, and the platform lowered by 50 μm per layer. This sequence continued until the green body electrolyte was completed. Excess slurry was drained, uncured paste reused.

The viscosity test was conducted in triplicate on separate paste specimens, yielding highly consistent and precise viscosity readings across the multiple trials.

Highly encouraging results

The picture below, shows defect-free YSZ components with unique features like thin corrugated electrolyte membranes, embedded gas channels, inlet/outlet holes, and sealing frames. The corrugated membrane increases the active area by 60% compared to flat cells, from 45 cm2 to 72 cm2, while improving fuel/air distribution and mechanical strength during processing.

Cross-section SEM images verified proper layer attachment, density and homogeneity of the fabricated electrolyte. The fully dense electrolyte had no cracks or delamination and a small ~400 nm average grain size. Higher magnification images showed the layer-by-layer printed steps, experimentally confirming a ~50 μm nominal resolution in all x,y,z axes.

On the production side…

The 3D printing manufacturing process proved highly robust, yielding over 30 units of the intricate cell designs with an impressive 85% production success rate. The consistent high quality and reproducibility achieved for these complete cells enabled the subsequent fabrication and validation of full stacks incorporating the complex-shaped cell components.

“Overall, the results obtained in both SOEC and SOFC modes demonstrated a good performance of the substack.” The performance and operational stability testing detailed in the complete article demonstrated the superior performance and durability of the proposed innovative design concept, further validating its suitability for scaling up to kilowatt-range systems.

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