“SOFC can be applied to an endless number of areas.”
“It is expected to take five to ten years for the commercialization of micro SOFC single cell-equipped smartphones.”
“The public and private sectors need to invest in SOFC with a long-term view.”
“Proton exchange membrane fuel cells and phosphoric acid fuel cells work at low temperatures and so they have an advantage in terms of durability, making their commercialization convenient. On the other hand, solid oxide fuel cells work at high temperatures and they are not easy for commercialization, but due to their high-efficiency and versatility, they can be used in variety of areas at very lower prices.”
Prof. Gyeong Man Choi, 63, in the department of materials science and engineering of POSTECH, started studying solid electrolytes for his dissertation, began to research into electronic ceramics as he joined the faculty of POSTECH in 1988, and has been concentrating his research on solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) since 1996. Recently, he has developed a micro SOFC single cell applicable to portable electronics and spoke why he chose SOFC.
“I first planned to use a methanol fuel cell, which uses polymer materials as electrolyte and methanol as fuel, to power mobile devices. And I contacted a number of companies in and out of Korea for collaboration, but things didn’t work out and the plan fell through.”
“Then, I chose SOFC, because it is more efficient than other fuel cells as it works at high temperatures, and especially, a micro SOFC that uses thin films has at least three times higher energy density than a lithium secondary battery. The world is paying attention to this new energy technology.”
Prof. Choi said that he adopted the tape casting-compression-sintering process for developing this micro SOFC single cell to make its enlargement and mass production cheaper and easier. Besides, if you select the most advantageous material and manufacturing process, he said, the vulnerability to heat and shock can be reduced. He added that the follow-up research has to be done to ensure the reliability of SOFC single cells and facilitate mass production for the commercialization of SOFC single cell-equipped smartphones. Afterwards, he said, the SOFC single cell stack and fuel supply and power management technologies have to be integrated into the form of a chip.
“The integration will be the hardest and take the longest time for smartphones because they are small. Since the performance and durability have not been proved, the research has drawn not much attention, but with intensive support from the public and private sectors, the commercialization will be expected to happen in five to ten years.”
Prof. Choi said, it seemed people misunderstood his invention as a ‘micro SOFC system.’
“A fuel cell is developed in stages from a single sell to a stack, and then to a system. Especially as for micro SOFC, the development of a single cell that ensures the durability to the thermal cycle and high performance is the most important, and it hadn’t been successful. But through this research, we designed a new micro SOFC single cell that ensures both the durability and high performance, and developed the essential platform technology.”
“Our technology uses a metal support structure and has advantages in the production of the stack, but follow-up technologies, including fuel supply, have to developed to build the system and put it into practical use.”
Prof. Choi admitted his frustration, “The research was thought to have no potential for early application to small electronics like cell phones and drones, and it was hard to receive a research grant from the government or corporations.”
To promote the development and use of SOFC, he advised, “If a researcher follows the similar footsteps of the companies that dropped out in the middle, success is less likely. So it is necessary to challenge fundamental problems like durability.”
He added, “As in this research, if the thermal, mechanical and chemical durability can be ensured at high speed operations, a SOFC-powered vehicle, as the most important application, could also be possible. When the researchers, government, and businesses patiently work toward the development of SOFC, I expect the commercialization of high-efficiency, low-price SOFC will happen.”
“Electronic Materials Science: Atom-Level Simulation and Phase Field Model”
This book deals with atom-level simulation and phase field models.
It is written to provide an overview on the topics for learners.
Author: Byeong-joo Lee (Professor, POSTECH Department of Materials Science and Engineering)
Author: Seong Gyoon Kim (Professor, Kunsan National University Department of Materials Science and Engineering)
Let’s learn the principles of computer simulation useful for developing materials.
Part 1 Atom-level simulation
* Molecular dynamics and the basis of Monte Carlo simulation
* Interatomic potential model
* Atomic-scale analysis of materials and examples
Part 2 The basic thermodynamics and diffusion for phase change modeling
* Gibbs free energy of alloys
* Phase equilibrium calculation methods and their applications
* The latest research on multidimensional diffusion model and simulation
Part 3 Phase field model for phase change
* The basic interfacial thermodynamics
* The structure and principles of phase field model
* Phase field model for multi-component, -phase, and –fault situations
* Computer simulation code by using phase field model