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Professor Won-Young Lee’s Team at Sungkyunkwan University Develops the World’s Best-Performing Proton-Conducting Fuel Cell

By October 24, 2021 4   min read  (492 words)

October 24, 2021 |

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A research team led by Professor Won-young Lee (first author, Min-ki Choi, post-doctoral researcher) in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Sungkyunkwan University (President Dong-ryeol Shin) announced that it has developed a manufacturing method that maximizes the basic properties of proton-conducting electrolytes, resulting in the world’s best-performing proton-conducting fuel cell.

Proton-conducting fuel cells are attracting a lot of attention as a next-generation energy system capable of high-efficiency power generation due to the high ionic conductivity and low activation energy of the electrolyte. and difficult to use.

Accordingly, the research team studied the reason for the low performance of the proton-conducting fuel cell, and found that the chemical stability of the material was lowered and the growth of crystal grains was delayed as major components of the electrolyte were volatilized during the manufacturing process.

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[Figure 1] Confirmation of the relationship between the chemical composition ratio and grain growth of the proton-conducting electrolyte manufactured through volatile component control. (a) Surface optical image, (b) Chemical composition ratio analysis, (c) Surface application area of ​​secondary growth clusters, and (d) grain size of the proton-conducting electrolyte to which the volatile content control process was applied. (e) Confirmation of chemical composition of secondary growth clusters and surface images of where volatile content is most ideally controlled and where it is not. (f) Correlation between chemical composition ratio of electrolyte, grain growth and secondary growth cluster surface application area controlled through volatile component control. [Photo source = Sungkyunkwan University]

In addition, the sinterability was greatly improved by precisely controlling the volatility of the main components of the electrolyte, and the electrolyte was successfully manufactured with crystal grains about 5 times larger than the previously reported values ​​while having a perfect chemical composition inside the electrolyte.

Based on the electrolyte produced in this way, a proton-conducting fuel cell system has been developed that has the world’s best performance at an operating temperature of 600 degrees or less, which greatly exceeds previously reported values.

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[Figure 2] Confirmation of changes in physical/chemical properties of proton-conducting electrolytes that change through volatile component control. (a) change in stoichiometric ratio of proton conductor according to temperature control of volatile content control process, (b) confirmation of phase breakage by X-ray diffraction analysis, (c) mass ratio analysis of disrupted phase by Ritterwald analysis, (d) grain size change. Comparison of (e) proton conductivity and (f) proton conduction activation energy according to the size of grown grains. [Photo source = Sungkyunkwan University]

Professor Wonyoung Lee said, “If the fuel cell technology developed in this study is commercialized, a high-efficiency power system using hydrogen, an eco-friendly energy source, can be built in the city center regardless of location. I hope it will be a driving force.”

The results of this research are the mid-level research support project of the National Research Foundation and the Sejong Science Fellowship support project.

(No. 2019R1A2C4070158, No. 2021R1C1C2006657) was supported, and it was published online on October 16th in Energy & Environmental Science (IF: 38.53, JCR<1%), an international academic journal in the field of energy.

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[Figure 3] Evaluation of the electrochemical performance of a proton-conducting fuel cell manufactured with an electrolyte of an ideal stoichiometric ratio through volatile component control. Current-voltage-power density graphs of proton conductive fuel cells prepared with (a) an electrolyte with stoichiometric imbalance without volatile component control, and (b) electrolyte with ideal stoichiometric ratio through volatile component control. Comparison of (c) maximum power density and (d) ohmic resistance with proton-conducting fuel cells reported so far. [Photo source = Sungkyunkwan University]

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