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Durham University

Durham Energy Institute

Past Events

Find out about some of the previous events held by Durham Energy Institute:

Clean and efficient energy generation: Materials for solid oxide fuel cells

28th January 2016, 13:00 to 14:00, E245, School of Engineering & Computing Sciences, Dr Ivana Evans

Meeting the future energy needs of the world’s growing population is one of today’s most significant scientific challenges. Different types of new, renewable and sustainable energy generation have been the subject of intense research, including solar, nuclear, wind and geothermal energy. Solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology is a frontrunner in the short-to-medium term race to provide sustainable energy solutions, owing to the unique combination of high efficiency, fuel flexibility and environmental safety.

Two factors have prevented the widespread commercialisation of SOFCs: system cost and reliability, and both stem from the high operating temperatures of the current technology (850–1000oC). Lowering the operating temperatures into the so-called intermediate temperature region (500–700oC) is therefore a major driver in SOFC research.

We have recently reported exceptional low-temperature oxide ion conductivity in Bi1-xVxO1.5+x(x = 0.095-0.087) phases, with s = 3.5´10-2 S/cm at 450oC, the highest to-date in a stable 3D fluorite-type system. We have attributed this remarkable behaviour to the simultaneous presence of four key structural factors: a highly polarisable sublattice with vacancies, central atoms able to support variable coordination numbers and geometries, and the rotational flexibility of these coordination polyhedra, co-existing in a pseudo-cubic structure. We have found similar structural features to lead to high oxide ion conductivity in a number of other materials with complex superstructures.

This presentation will illustrate how a combination of careful crystallographic work, computational methods and characterisation of physical properties is required to understand the complexity of next- generation energy materials.

Ivana Evans is a Reader in Structural/Materials Chemistry at Durham University. The research interests and activities in the group are in the area of structure-property relationships of functional materials across the chemical spectrum. Current projects span both inorganic and organic solid state chemistry, and are focussed on the following main areas: development of new oxide ion conductors for fuel cells, development of oxide and mixed anion photocatalysts for hydrogen production, organic ferroelectrics and pharmaceutical materials.

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