Niobia based rutile materials as SOFC anodes

C.M. Reich, Andreas Kaiser, J.T.S. Irvine

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Materials that exhibit considerable electronic conductivity and good stability in fuel atmospheres are interesting candidates to replace of Ni in its current collecting role in Ni-cermet solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) anodes. The Nb1-xTixO2 rutile system offers particularly high electronic conductivity and has good chemical compatibility with SOFC components and seems an interesting candidate. Of the three stable phases in the Nb2O5-TiO2 system, Nb2TiO7 was chosen as starting composition as it has the highest Ti content and so exhibits the highest conductivity when reduced to rutile. Nb2TiO7 was prepared by standard solid state reaction at 1250 °C for 48 hours in air. Under the reducing conditions of a SOFC anode at 930 °C, it is reduced to rutile Nb0.67Ti0.33O2. The conductivity increases by about 4 orders of magnitude to about 300 Scm-1 between air and fuel atmospheres and the p(O2)-1/6 dependence close to fuel conditions indicates n-type conductivity. Impedance spectra of samples in both oxidising and reducing atmospheres were consistent with electronic domination; any ionic contribution seemed
insignificant. Symmetrical cell measurements of Nb2TiO7-x screen-printed electrodes on yttria stabilised zirconia in air were dominated by the series resistance of the electrodes. Under reducing conditions the series resistance was very low; however, there were significant polarisation impedances and also a large diffusion limitation. The poor electrochemical performance is thought to be related to very slow ionic diffusion in the niobate. The polarisation resistance in air was similar in value to that in hydrogen, despite much lower electrode conductivity. Despite the poor electrochemical performance this material still presents many attributes attractive for a current collection function.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFuel Cells
Issue number3-4
Pages (from-to)249-255
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • SOFC
  • Anode
  • Current collector
  • Niobia
  • Rutile

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