A Porous Copper-Based Alloy for a Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell

Advancements in porous anode material leads to improved fuel cells.

(De Gruyter) – Porous Cu35Ni15Cr is an important material for the production of molten carbonate fuel cells, which represent a promising next-generation technology for direct conversion of fuel gases (e.g., natural gas, hydrogen, coal gas) to electricity. In this paper, the authors investigate and optimize ball milling and sintering times of this material, ultimately settling on 18 hours ball milling followed by a 950°C sintering step.

Molten carbonate fuel cells require porous, metallic anodes to allow the movement of both fuel gas and electrons. Although nickel has historically been used, lower cost anodes have been developed from copper. Although these anodes have passable performance under the high heat and stress conditions inside a molten carbonate fuel cell, additional improvements to mechanical properties have been realized by the addition of small amounts of chromium. The authors investigate the effect of ball milling and sintering time on the final porosity of a NiCuCr alloy based on these factors.

Ultimately, they determine that 18 hours ball milling and a sintering temperature of 950°C provide the best conditions to produce a final anode which combines high porosity (62%) and good mechanical parameters (e.g., yield stress, elastic modulus). Interestingly, the material is composed of two phases with different chemical compositions. Although there are currently few papers looking at anode alloys such as this, the promising results of this paper will hopefully lead to further advancements.

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The original full article can be found at De Gruyter Journal Articles.

DOI: 10.1515/msp-2015-0113

Materials Science-Poland. 2015, 33(4), 887-893.

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