Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are developing materials and techniques used to fabricate solid oxide fuel cells. This test of a "button"
cell will help select electrode materials for full-sized cells.
Fuel prices continue to rise. However, one solution--fuel
cells--is gaining on that problem. The Solid State Energy
Conversion Alliance (SECA) has achieved the first of a threepart
goal: developing solid oxide fuel cell systems that reduce
fuel cell production costs by a factor of ten.
SECA is a collaboration between industry, academia
and other research organizations to develop modular, lowcost,
fuel-flexible solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) systems that
can operate on coal
gas, natural gas,
hydrogen, and liquid
fuels. SECA is led
by Pacific Northwest
and the National
and funded through
the Department of
Energy's Office of
"With this goal accomplished, we can now proceed
to the second step--refining our modular fuel cell design
to make it more easily customized for diverse commercial
applications," said Gary McVay, who manages PNNL's
role in SECA.
Although fuel cells are considered a potential solution
to the nation's energy problems, they currently are too
expensive for widespread use. By developing a fuel cell for
diverse applications, the SECA team intends to reduce costs.
Potential applications include military, transportation and
land-based power generation.
Manufactured with a scalable mass-production
technique, the first-phase SOFC prototypes exceed all
of SECA's Phase I targets for performance degradation,
efficiency, endurance and production cost.
The SECA program involves six industry teams using
varied approaches to design a fuel cell that will meet DOE
cost and performance goals while also meeting their own
specific needs. In addition, leading researchers in industry,
academia and at national laboratories support the industry
teams with cutting-edge research and development.
The Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.