Satya Swaroop Dash
Satya Swaroop Dash
Computer Science
11 Mar 2016

Fuel Cells Developed By Korean Researchers Promise Longer Backup Times

You know the thing that powers our electronic devices, the humble yet troublesome Lithium-ion battery. From notebooks to smartphones to drones every electronic item you can imagine is powered by Lithium-ion batteries. They are often blamed for lower battery backup times so why not switch to something else? The problem till was there was no viable alternative, until now. Researchers from Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea have designed a new battery technology that can power drones for up to an hour instead of the usual couple of minutes. The research team led by Professor Gyeong Man Choi of Department of Materials Science and Engineering has developed a miniaturised solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) that aims to replace lithium-ion batteries.

Prof. Choi & Student Kun Joong Kim​

The miniaturised solid oxide fuel cell developed by the team uses an oxide-based thin-film electrode and porous stainless steel substrate. To manufacture the thin film electrolyte on the stainless steel substrate a nano-porous composite oxide is applied as a new contact layer. This is the first time anyone in the world someone has combined porous stainless steel with thin-film electrolyte and electrodes. Both the stainless steel substrate, electrolyte and electrodes have minimal heat capacity which means it overcomes one of the biggest burdens of lithium-ion batteries which is heating. The fuel cell is produced by tape casting-lamination-co-firing (TLC) technique which means you can scale them up to any proportion. The fuel cells could be big enough to power electric cars.

Creating SOFC
Creation of SOFC Through TLC​

The miniaturised solid oxide fuel cell manufactured by the team shows peak power density of 560 mW cm−2 at 550 °C and maintains this power density during rapid thermal cycles. This means it’s perfect for electronic devices which require high power-density and fast thermal cycling such as drones. The team predicts that their fuel cell technology might be able to power smartphones for a week. To know more about the miniaturised solid oxide fuel cell you can visit the college website and its coverage on Nature.

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