Judges’ Queries and Presenter’s Replies

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Presentation Discussion

  • May 21, 2012 | 10:54 p.m.

    Nice poster and presentation. Congratulations on your work.

    Although the need to develop a screening approach is very important, shouldn’t screening approaches also be somewhat customizable to the materials under consideration? Where would such degree of flexibility originate in your design?

    Also, without a hypothesis or optimal design goal, how do you evaluate the utility of your screening approach?

  • Icon for: Micah Casteel

    Micah Casteel

    May 22, 2012 | 08:54 a.m.

    Thanks for the comment, allow me to address the two questions separately:
    First, the screening is “somewhat flexible” in that depending on the overall system design parameters (operating temperature, fuel type, operational type etc) the individual test procedures can be adjusted. For instance, if the fuel cell system in question was to be operated at 600 C, the conductivity measurements, oxidation testing, etc would all be performed with that temperature as the benchmark temperature. I think the key takeaway from a comprehensive screening process is the desire and ability to investigate all (ideally) properties of the material. Often a new material is suggested and may perform very well in certain areas, but there seems to be a tendency to focus on a narrow and deep analysis of certain properties of the new materials which often results in missing major shortcomings in other areas. It is important to address the entire picture if a new material if it is to be more than an academic curiosity.
    Luckily for me the optimal design goals have mostly been established already. Governmental projects (SECA, REAL-SOFC, etc) publish design goals for various components. For instance the resistivity of an interconnect should not exceed 0.1 ohms/cm^2 over the lifetime of the stack. Other screened variables such as coefficient of thermal expansion will depend on the specifics of the individual system.

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Icon for: Micah Casteel


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Years in Grad School: 4

Developing Hybrid Metallic Materials for Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Interconnect Applications

The worlds energy landscape is rapidly evolving from hunter-gatherer approach to an agricultural approach where we can “grow our own” energy. This provides a fantastic opportunity to increase the sustainability of our manufacturing, the efficiency of our homes, and many other advances. This revolution is built on a confluence of diverse energy production and efficiency boosting technologies, both traditional and novel. An important aspect of this process is increasing the efficiency with which we convert between one form of energy to another. Historically, the most common method of converting chemical energy consisted of burning it, often inefficiently, and with toxic effluent. Fuel cells offer a new way to convert chemical energy, found in traditional hydrocarbons and novel biofuels, at high efficiencies. Solid oxide fuel cells(SOFCs) in particular allow for extremely high efficiencies of energy conversion and even allow direct use of traditional fuels without upgrading our infrastructure. However, there are still challenges to bringing SOFCs to the market at economical prices. One of these problems is interconnect degradation, which results in performance losses and premature failure. This degradation is the result of inadequate materials, however no good alternatives exist, and pursuing advanced materials results in an overly expensive device. Our approach is to pursue novel materials combinations resulting in a new hybrid material that can be fabricated using common materials and materials processing techniques. Ideally this new material will exhibit superior materials properties at a significantly lower price point than alternative advanced materials solutions.