West Virginia University’s Xingbo Liu is the recipient of one of seven grants recently handed out by the U.S. Department of Energy to study the development of low-cost, solid oxide fuel cell technology for environmentally responsible power generation.

Liu, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, will be working to advance cathode performance in SOFCs. The cathode is a thin, porous layer on the electrolyte of a fuel cell where oxygen reduction takes place, thus generating a form of flameless combustion that is more energy efficient than electricity generated through coal-fired technology.

“A cathode accounts for about five percent of the cost of a fuel cell,” said Liu. “But unfortunately they currently account for about 50 percent of the total efficiency lost, also known as over-potential. There have been strategies developed to improve cathode performance but many have not been compatible with current SOFC manufacturing processes. This has made it difficult for industries to adopt them.”

Liu’s goal for the project is to provide a pathway to the development of the next generation of cathode, which will offer better performance and stability and be cost-competitive with currently used power generation technologies.

The three-year grant, totaling $499,953, was made by the DOE through the Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance. Founded in the fall of 1999, SECA is collaboration between the federal government, private industry, academic institutions and national laboratories devoted to the development of low-cost, modular, and fuel-flexible solid oxide fuel cell technology suitable for a variety of power generation applications.



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CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon
304-293-4086; mary.dillon@mail.wvu.edu