Fuel cells

Discovery facilitates metal/ceramic binding

Wednesday 14 May 14
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Luise Theil Kuhn
Head of Section
DTU Energy
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A discovery made by researchers at DTU Energy Conversion may have a major impact on catalysts in the chemical industry.

By Kasper Haagen Skovse

Researchers at DTU Energy Conversion have discovered—almost by accident—a method for changing what is known as ‘wetting’ between metal and ceramic via electrochemistry, facilitating the process of binding metal and ceramic materials.

“The discovery may prove very significant in the fuel cell industry. In theory, it might lead to a major change in catalyst systems, in powders and in ceramic carrier materials in all kinds of catalysts used in the chemical industry,” say researchers Wei Zhang and Luise Theil Kuhn.

DTU Energy Conversion is carrying out intensive research into ceramic fuel cells (SOFC) and ceramic electrolysis cells (SOEC), which both have crucial roles to play in future energy supply systems. Nickel and the ceramic substance zirconium oxide are fundamental components in both types of cell, because these materials feature the appropriate properties—and because they do not react with one another. They have what researchers call ‘weak mutual wetting’.

Wetting is the capacity of a liquid to attach to a solid surface, which affects the fundamental properties of materials. As such, it is important to be able to check wetting—and this is now possible with the assistance of electrochemistry.

“We still need to make the leap from fundamental research to establishing a way to utilize the discovery, so we don’t yet know its full potential,” explain Wei Zhang and Luise Theil Kuhn.