Lehigh University logo
Lehigh University logo
Lehigh University logo

Jonathan Witt

Novel Materials for Cathodes and Anodes of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

Departments: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Advisor: Steven McIntosh

The objective of this research is to characterize different types of solid oxides in order to understand how different element combinations and crystal structures affect oxygen anion and electron conductivity in solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) anodes and cathodes. The goal of this research is to provide knowledge on which materials to use for intermediate temperature SOFC’s (ITSOFC). SOFCs typically operate between 800 and 1000°C, however, this requires expensive balance of plant materials and accelerates degradation. ITSOFCs operate between 500 and 700 °C. As a result, cheaper materials could be used to contain the SOFC which lowers the cost of the fuel cell and increases ITSOFC’s viability as an alternative energy source. The main reason why SOFC’s require such high temperature is the activation energy of oxygen anion transport. Oxygen anions are transported using an oxygen pressure gradient and a charge gradient across the fuel cell. Oxygen anions hop between vacant and occupied sites on the oxygen sub lattice of anode and cathode materials. This research seeks out different combinations of materials, layered perovskites and related structures, to aid in lowering the activation energy of oxygen transport. It is hypothesized that localization of oxygen vacancies within certain crystallographic planes will achieve this goal. Vacancy localization occurs in double perovskite through ordering of cations.

About Jonathan Witt:
Jonathan Witt is a senior at Lehigh University pursuing a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. While working under Dr. McIntosh for the past two years, he has been synthesizing cathode and anode materials for use in Solid Oxide Fuel Cells. After graduation, he will pursue a doctorate in chemical engineering and will focus on energy storage.