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Thickeners for Molten Carbonate Fuel Cells


Investigation of Potential Use of Different Materials as Matrix Plate Thickeners for Molten Carbonate Fuel Cells

Tech Area / Field

  • NNE-BCM/Batteries and Components/Non-Nuclear Energy

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Emel'yanov V K

Leading Institute
VNIIEF, Russia, N. Novgorod reg., Sarov

Supporting institutes

  • High Temperature Electrochemistry Institute, Russia, Sverdlovsk reg., Ekaterinburg


  • Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), USA, IL, Argonne

Project summary

Nowadays electrochemical generator (ECG) on the base of high-temperature molten carbonate fuel cells (MCFC) is one of the most perspective energy sources. The principle of MCFC work is to transform chemical fuel energy directly into electric energy, so, it shows its ecologically purity and high efficiency. MCFC structure does not contain expensive catalysts of noble metals, and requirements for gas-reactant purity are rather low.

Constant refinement of MCFC units and components lead nowadays to the fact that power density has become more than 0.1 W/cm2 and service life – some thousands of hours. But it must be mentioned that these high results have been achieved, most of all, due to use of special material element of high purity in structure.

Apparently, energy sources may hit the market at cost reduction of developed ECG, and this requires no-use of expensive precision materials.

Matrix-electrolyte plate (MEP), offering some of functions, is an important MCFC element. A whole number of strigent requirements for gas-density, sealing of element periphery, mechanical strength, electrolyte distribution uniformity.

Today one of allotrope forms of lithium aluminate g-LiAlO2 is one of the most popular thickener for MEP. At the same time, content of g-LiAlO2 in material must be 95-98%. This material is produced by complex synthesis and is brought to fit condition through passing by long technological pattern. Thus, material cost for MEP of g-LiAlO2 appears rather high.

Oxides of the third and the forth groups for Periodical Chemical Element System are usually used as other thickeners for carbonate electrolyte in experimental investigations. Nevertheless, the results for today have not revealed thickener competitive in properties with g-LiAlO2.

One of work directions is optimization for MCFC components, including MEP, as for cost reduction and increase of service life keeping electrical characteristics.

The task of this Project is study of opportunity for use in MCFC MEP production, firstly, – of lithium aluminate of low commercial purity as thickener, secondly, – of different methods for MEP forming, thirdly, – natural thickeners with minimal cycle of technological preparation.

During Project realization it is proposed :

— firstly, – to study opportunities for use of lithium aluminates, produced by different methods and, – correspondingly, having different levels of purity and dispersivity, – as a matter-thickener in MCFC MEP;
— secondly, – to investigate opportunities for use of natural thickeners, requiring for minimal technological preparation, – as a matter-thickener in MCFC MEP;
— thirdly, – to evaluate serviceability of MEP on the base of different thickeners produced by different methods. We have in our disposal opportinuties for plate production by rolling, dross casting and moulding methods.

Thus, investigation result will be the following:

in terms of science – determination of responsivity for electric and service life MCFC characteristics to material composition and MEP structure. This work will permit to show processes in operating MCFC more fully;
— in terms of economics – determination of optimal technology for MCFC MEP production, alternative standard MEP of g-LiAlO2 containing powder of about 70% with specific surface of about 1 m2/g, and about 30% – 20 m2/g, produced by dross casting method. The optimization is complex, including operation efficiency for MCFC, its service life, manufacturability and cost. This will allow to progress for commercialization of MCFC ECG;
— in terms of industry – advancing of perspective to use high effective and environmentally conscious energy sources (MCFC ECG) in different fields, for example, in gas-producing industry.

During a Project work it is proposed to collaborate with foreign firms in the following forms:

— information exchange;
— possible performance of joint investigations.


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