The Ceres Metal-Supported Fuel Cell
Ceres has developed a unique adaptation of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) technology, able to operate at temperatures substantially lower than conventional designs based on industry standard YSZ (yttria stabilised zirconia) which typically run at 800 - 1000°C. By using a new generation of ceramic materials known as CGO (Gadolinium doped Cerium Oxide) as the Ceres fuel cell electrolyte, operation at 500 - 600°C becomes possible.
Operation at temperatures below 600°C, enables the use of conventional stainless steel as the cell substrate, separating the functions of mechanical support and electrochemistry. The electrochemical layers can be made extremely thin and optimised for maximum performance, resulting in excellent performance, whilst the stack material costs are radically reduced. Ceres cells are fabricated with standard high volume capable deposition techniques including liquid spraying and screen printing resulting in a production capability with very low takt times. The manufacturing process delivers high quality cells through extensive use of statistical process control and full traceability.
In contrast to ceramic supported cell designs, these metal-supported cells are mechanically robust and enable the use of laser welding to provide fuel side sealing. Compliant high temperature gaskets provide sealing between cells in a stack and the thermal expansion coefficient of the metal cell support is well matched with that of the ceramic coatings. All these features combine to provide a fuel cell stack with extremely high thermal shock tolerance, permitting rapid startup and cool down times, and the potential for many on/off cycles through product life.