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Project title: Innovative SOFC Architecture based on Triode Operation
Project acronym: T-CELL
Project reference: FCH JU 298300
Call for proposals: 2010
Application Area: Stationary Power Production and Combined Heat and Power
Project type: Research and Technological Development
Topic: SP1-JTI-FCH.2010.3.1: Next generation stack and cell design
            SP1-JTI-FCH.2010.3.4: Proof-of-concept fuel cell systems
Contract type: Collaborative project
Start date: 01 Sep 2012  End date: 01 Sep 2015
Duration: 36 months     
Project cost: € 3.4 million              Project funding: € 1.8 million
Project Funded by: Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU)
Coordinator: Dr. Dimitrios Tsiplakides,CPERI/CERTH ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )


The principal objective of the T-CELL project is to develop a radically new triode approach to SOFC technology together with a novel, advanced architecture for cell and stack design. This advance will be accomplished by means of a third electrode, driven by an auxiliary circuit, which is run in electrolytic mode. In this way the anode or cathode of the cell can be forced to operate at controlled potential differences that are inaccessible under standard operation. The application of this triode concept to produce low-temperature SOFC units (see below) will significantly decrease anodic and cathodic polarization losses and should, in principle, permit the use of alternative and/or less costly electrode materials. Triode operation is especially advantageous when a significant anodic overpotential is present, as is expected to be the case with natural gas and gasoline-fuelled SOFCs. Another entirely new possibility offered by triode operation is that of inducing potential modulations that (i) allow electrocatalyst operation under potential difference conditions that are inaccessible in conventional operation, and (ii) force oxygen anion migration to the catalyst surface. Both phenomena are likely to be important in controlling the rate of carbon deposition and poisoning by fuel impurities; they should also enhance charge transport at the anode three-phase boundary.


Schematic of triode fuel cell concept

In the framework of the project the triode approach will be investigated and evaluated using both unmodified and modified Ni-based cermet anodes, especially with respect to examining operating conditions and stability. The aim is to identify the key design parameters and to acquire the necessary knowledge to guide the development of new SOFC materials and systems. In order to expand and leverage the resulting fundamental knowledge into advanced tools for the implementation of the proposed concept, a detailed experiment-based mathematical model for the consistent description of intrinsic anode performance under triode operation will be developed.
Demonstration of triode architectures in SOFCs is expected to offer a unique tool for controlling the rate of carbon deposition and poisoning by fuel impurities and therefore should significantly improve efficiency in direct hydrocarbon SOFC and reduce deactivation rates, thus enabling operation at substantially lower temperatures (<800°C). Electrochemically efficient, poison-resistant anodic performance will enable expansion of the range of usable fuels, thus eliminating fuel pre-processing cost and increasing overall efficiency.

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