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Nat Mater. 2004 Jan;3(1):17-27.

Advanced anodes for high-temperature fuel cells.

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  • 1Department of Materials, Imperial College, London SW7 2BP, UK.

Abstract

Fuel cells will undoubtedly find widespread use in this new millennium in the conversion of chemical to electrical energy, as they offer very high efficiencies and have unique scalability in electricity-generation applications. The solid-oxide fuel cell (SOFC) is one of the most exciting of these energy technologies; it is an all-ceramic device that operates at temperatures in the range 500-1,000 degrees C. The SOFC offers certain advantages over lower temperature fuel cells, notably its ability to use carbon monoxide as a fuel rather than being poisoned by it, and the availability of high-grade exhaust heat for combined heat and power, or combined cycle gas-turbine applications. Although cost is clearly the most important barrier to widespread SOFC implementation, perhaps the most important technical barriers currently being addressed relate to the electrodes, particularly the fuel electrode or anode. In terms of mitigating global warming, the ability of the SOFC to use commonly available fuels at high efficiency, promises an effective and early reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, and hence is one of the lead new technologies for improving the environment. Here, we discuss recent developments of SOFC fuel electrodes that will enable the better use of readily available fuels.

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