Demonstration of high power, direct conversion of waste-derived carbon in a hybrid direct carbon fuel cell

Cairong Jiang, Jianjun Ma, Alfredo Damiano Bonaccorso, John T.S. Irvine

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Direct carbon fuel cells offer highly efficient means of converting carbon from waste, biomass or coal to electricity producing an exhaust stream that is well-suited to CO2 sequestration and, hence could
underpin a new, clean carbon economy. If this technology is to contribute significantly to improving our impending global energy crisis, three aspects must first be addressed: competitive performance with extant fuel cell technologies, development of practical systems to handle available carbon resources and demonstration of sufficient durability, i.e. 40 000 hours minimum for system. In the present study, we demonstrate excellent performance from a hybrid direct carbon fuel cell based upon an yttriumstabilised zirconia electrolyte to use solid carbons as fuels directly. Good stability of the zirconia is observed during and after fuel cell testing and in corrosion tests under reducing conditions; however, significant intergrain erosion is observed under oxidising conditions. The carbon fuel chosen is a waste product, Medium Density Fibreboard, which is widely available and difficult to recycle. Cells exhibit excellent electrochemical performance at 750 C, with a maximum power density of 390mWcm2 using a lanthanum doped strontium manganite (LSM) cathode and 878 mW cm2 using a lanthanum doped strontium cobalt (LSC) cathode under flowing air. This is comparable with current commercial Solid Oxide Fuel Cell and significantly in excess of commercial Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell (MCFC) performance. This hybrid direct carbon fuel cell therefore offers the clean utilisation of coal, waste and renewable carbon sources and hence merits development as a realistic alternative technology.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnergy & Environmental Science
Pages (from-to)6973-6980
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

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