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Solid oxide cells, European production aims at “low cost”

Solid oxide cells

SOFC. By Tavo Romann – Own work, CC BY 4.0,

The Technology of Solid Oxide Cells

( – To fully embody the role of carrier of the energy transition, Green hydrogen also needs efficient and robust electrochemical technologies. Solutions are able not only to make the best use of it but also to be fully integrated into the European net-zero technology chain. In this context, solid oxide cells (Solid Oxide Cells – SOC) have attracted attention in recent years, winning technical improvements and new investments.

The advantages of reversible solid oxide cells (rSOC)

It is a high-temperature technology, which works between 600 and 800 ºC (although some types can work at lower temperatures) and that – as the name implies – contains a solid oxide, used as an electrolyte. The latter as well as the other components – electrodes, interconnects, sealants – must necessarily have adequate thermal and chemical stability.

Their versatility represents a strong point: they can switch from the mode of production of hydrogen (SOEC – solid oxide electrolytic cell) to that of energy production (SOFC – fuel cell with solid oxides). But they are also noted for high overall efficiency (thermal and combined electrical) of 85-90 percent. Several industrial companies have ventured into the production of SOFC and SOEC in the Old Continent, but the costs are still high to ensure the segment a large market share.

AMPS, Automating the production of solid oxide fuel cells

AMPS, a new European project funded by the Horizon Europe program with EUR 6.6 million, is helping. The initiative, which involves the Polytechnic of Turin for Italy, brings together the main European companies involved in the value chain of solid oxide fuel cells. The goal? To be able to automate the production of SOC, and the adjoining bipolar plates and interconnectors and their assembly in batteries. Ensuring integrated quality control for each step and cutting production costs. Until 31 May 2027, AMPS partners will study, demonstrate and validate high-speed and cost-effective manufacturing techniques for solid oxide cell and stack production.

Using digital twins technology, the project also aims to achieve full component traceability and optimize mass production, to achieve a production cost of less than EUR 800 per kW based on a production volume of 100 MW per year.

The role of the policy

In this context, he explains the policy in a press release – the Polytechnic will evaluate the economic sustainability of the new production process (with a target <800 €/kW) in comparison to conventional solid oxide cell production methods (SOC). “The analysis – says the statement – also includes a detailed assessment of the life cycle of the process to demonstrate its environmental sustainability, with a particular focus on waste management and recycling to achieve a high level of circularity. A comprehensive overview of the production process will also be provided, including safety and regulatory assessments“.

Starting from the first results obtained, the Polytechnic “will develop an ad hoc optimization tool to identify the conditions that make SOC systems the optimal solution for industrial and transport applications. Finally […] will also deal with dissemination, communication and exploitation activities”.

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