Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) are electrochemical energy conversion devices that convert chemical energy in fuels into electrical energy directly. The advantages of SOFCs include high conversion efficiency with environmentally friendly manner and flexible fuels, where not only hydrogen but also various hydrocarbon fuels and even carbon can be used as fuels for SOFCs. The reverse operation of SOFCs leads to solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOECs), where hydrogen and/or carbon monoxide rich syngas are generated using electricity, water and/or carbon dioxide. The combination of SOFCs and SOECs with energy storage unit may achieve functionality of batteries. Therefore, solid oxide cell is a versatile technology towards clean energy conversion and storage. Our group has been focusing on the development and characterization of materials for solid oxide cells. Our efforts also include fabrications of micro/nano-structured devices of solid oxide cells. Various in-situ and ex-situ characterization techniques in combination with multi-scale multi-physicochemical modeling have been using to understand fundamental transport mechanisms of solid oxide cells, whereby enhancing their high conversion efficiencies and high power densities as well as their stability.
Oxygen ionic transport membrane is an electrochemical device that can produce pure oxygen or supply oxygen to some oxidation process at both small and large scale. This technology is able to provide significant capital and power savings for a wide variety of industrial applications such as integrated gasification combined cycle, decarbonized fuel, oxygen enrichment, oxyfuel, and gas to liquid. When a separation process with ionic transport membrane is combined with a chemical reaction that takes place at one or both sides of the membrane, a catalytic ceramic membrane reactor is formed, where greener chemical synthesis can be obtained, including partial oxidation of methane (CH4) to syngas (H2 and CO), oxidative coupling of CH4 to C2 (ethylene and/or ethane), oxidative dehydrogenation of light alkanes to olefins, CO2 thermal conversion to CO and water splitting to hydrogen (H2). Our group has been focusing on developing advanced ceramic materials for oxygen ionic transport membranes and fabricating micro/nano-structured membrane devices. Various in-situ and ex-situ characterization techniques and micro-scale multi-physics modeling have been employing to understand fundamental transport mechanisms of membranes, therefore improving conversion efficiencies and enhancing stability. Our efforts also include up-scaling of single membranes to membrane modules.