Researchers at the University of Virginia are working to use nanoscale structures to develop lower-temperature solid oxide fuel cells optimized for the direct use of biofuels.
The team led by Assistant Professor Steven McIntosh will attempt to increase the speed and efficiency of the ion reactions in the SOFC to enable operate at lower temperatures (500°C rather than 800°C), making them more stable and longer lasting.
The goal is a fuel cell that can produce 10,000 hours of electricity to be used in a new type of small power plant, which would provide enough power for a small town or even a city block.
The research is supported with part of a $30,000 U. Va. Collaborative Sustainable Energy Seed Grant. The other part of the grant is supporting the development a new solar-cell for water-splitting, using similar nanostructures.