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Nanoceramics for Fuel Cell


Development of New Technologies for Generation of Nanoceramics Al2 O3, TiO2, ZrO2 for Mandrels and High Temperature Fuel Cell.

Tech Area / Field

  • NNE-EPP/Electric Power Production/Non-Nuclear Energy

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Karabashev S G

Leading Institute
VNIITF, Russia, Chelyabinsk reg., Snezhinsk

Supporting institutes

  • Institute of Electrophysics, Russia, Sverdlovsk reg., Ekaterinburg


  • Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe Technik und Umwelt / Institut für Neutronenphysik und Reaktortechnik, Germany, Karlsruhe\nSandia National Laboratories, USA, NM, Albuquerque

Project summary

On the basis of nanosized-structure ceramic materials, technologies will be developed for manufacturing functionally vital parts of electrochemical generators (ECGs) and hydroabrasive cutting units (НАСUs). Bringing the production of these promising entities of advanced equipment to a commercial status is currently being held in check for lack of technologies for the manufacture of essential ceramic parts that possess satisfactory properties. The novel technologies will largely extend the service life of ECGs and HACUs and reduce the cost thereof, thus opening up possibilities to produce these items commercially and apply them in practice.

ECGs built around solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) belong to a group of next century's most promising power plants. SOFCs employ the principle of directly converting the chemical energy of natural gas to electrical energy. The major functional element of an SOFC is a solid oxide electrolyte layer that is impermeable to gases and possesses high ionic conductivity. A technology will be developed to produce items from stabilized nanocrystalline zirconium dioxide, which is the most promising material for SOFCs. Owing to its nanosized structure, this material has high ionic conductivity, at least 10 ohnr'cnr1, along with high mechanical strength at operating temperatures. These features provide high power density, up to 0.5 W/cm2, a value that is approximately a factor of 2 higher than the existing level. Significantly, the expected service life of the new electrolyte will amount to 50,000 hours (6 years), an expectancy nearly 5 times as large the life of SOFCs made to date.

HACUs are promising devices for accurate remote machining, from a distance of 10 to 15 meters, in hard-to-reach and hazardous zones, for example dangerously explosive, radiation-hazardous, and high-temperature areas. The cutting tool in these apparatus is a high-pressure (up to 200 MPa) water jet saturated with abrasive powder material. "The serviceability and life of HACUs are limited by the wear-resistant mandrels that perform the function of jet shaping. A technology will be developed for manufacturing such mandrels from nanostructured ceramic materials based on aluminum, zirconium, and titanium oxides. Owing to their fine structure, the mandrels will possess increased wear resistance, which will be a factor of 2or 3 higher than that of micron-scale-structure mandrels. The cost of the new products will be 5 to 10 times lower than that of diamond and tungsten carbide mandrels in current use.

Creating nanostructured ceramics for mandrels and fuel cells with the required high service properties will be feasible because novel productive technologies and operative prototypes of ECGs and HACUs are available, which have been developed under laboratory conditions. The technologies include stages of the production of metal oxide nanopowders by the electrical explosion method., the pulsed magnetic compaction of nanopowders, and the subsequent product sintering free from recrystallization effects. At the powder production stage the technologies ensure high product purity and ecological cleanliness of the process, with the setup producing 200 g/h of nanopowder and consuming a power of 2 kW h/kg and with the equipment-occupied area being 6 m2. Pulsed magnetic compaction of nanopowders in vacuum ensures the production of compacts as plates and tubes with high density, up to 70-80%, before sintering and with a product surface area of 30 cm2, with the equipment-occupied area being 8 m2. The setups available permit immediately starting development work aimed at producing the required items from nanostructured ceramics with a grain size of 10 to 100 run. During the project the process equipment will be updated to the level of prototypes enabling small-lot (up to 30 kg a month per setup) production of items made of nanostructured ceramics. On the basis of Аl2О3, ТiOl2, and ZrOl2 oxide nanopowders, pilot lots of products as plates and tubes will be fabricated. A study will be made of the thermomechanical and functional properties of these items for application as wear-resistant mandrels and solid oxide fuel cells. Also, full-scale bench tests of products will be performed to determine their functional characteristics and service life. In conclusion, feasibility proposals will be worked out for the production of SOFCs for ECGs and of wear-resistant mandrels to HACUs.

To implement the project under the aegis of the ISTC, the effort of qualified weapons scientists and specialists will be united. Two organizations, namely, ARRITP and IEP will be involved, which have different specializations (high-power pulsed technology, ceramic technology, application of ceramic materials) and happily complement one another in the solution of the complicated problem stated. Owing to the combining of the intellectual potentials and technical capabilities of these groups, as well as owing to the support rendered to this cooperation by the ISTC, the results achieved will be mutually beneficial to each of the parties concerned. At the same time, this collaboration will permit reorienting large groups of scientists and engineers of ARRITP and the IEP, earlier engaged in the creation of armaments, toward the development of civil technologies. Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe GmbH, Institut fur Neutronenphysik und Reaktortechnik (INR/FZK), Karlsruhe, Germany, has already agreed to be the Collaborator cooperating in sintering and thermomechanical tests of n-cerarnic articles.


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