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New proposal to the electrical representation of a solid oxide fuel cell

Zbigniew Magonski (Department of Electronics, AGH University of Science and Technology, Krakow, Poland)
Barbara Dziurdzia (Department of Electronics, AGH University of Science and Technology, Krakow, Poland)

Microelectronics International

ISSN: 1356-5362

Article publication date: 7 August 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to find the electrical representation of a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) that enables the application of typical exploitation characteristics of fuel cells for estimation of fuel cell parameters (for example, exchange current) and easy analysis of phenomena occurred during the fuel cell operation.

Design/methodology/approach

Three-layer structure of an SOFC, where a thin semi-conducting layer of electrolyte separates the anode from the cathode, shows a strong similarity to typical semiconductor devices built on the basis of P-N junctions, like diodes or transistors. Current–voltage (I-V) characteristics of a fuel cell can be described by the same mathematical functions as I-V plots of semiconductor devices. On the basis of this similarity and analysis of impedance spectra of a real fuel cell, two electrical representations of the SOFC have been created.

Findings

The simplified electrical representation of SOFC consists of a voltage source connected in series with a diode, which symbolizes a voltage drop on a cell cathode, and two resistors. This model is based on the similarity of Butler-Volmer to Shockley equation. The advanced representation comprises a voltage source connected in series with a bipolar transistor in close to saturation mode and two resistors. The base-emitter junction of the transistor represents voltage drop on the cell cathode, and the base-collector junction represents voltage drop on the cell anode. This model is based on the similarity of Butler-Volmer equation to Ebers-Moll equation.

Originality/value

The proposed approach based on the Shockley and Ebers-Moll formulas enables the more accurate estimation of the ion exchange current and other fuel cell parameters than the approach based on the Butler-Volmer and Tafel formulas. The usability of semiconductor models for analysis of SOFC operation was proved. The models were successively applied in a new design of a planar ceramic fuel cell, which features by reduced thermal capacity, short start-up time and limited number of metal components and which has become the basis for the SOFC stack design.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Statutory Funds (No. 11.11.230.016) of the AGH Computer Science, Electronics and Telecommunications Faculty.

Citation

Magonski, Z. and Dziurdzia, B. (2017), "New proposal to the electrical representation of a solid oxide fuel cell", Microelectronics International, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 140-148. https://doi.org/10.1108/MI-12-2016-0092

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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