UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Impedance model of a solid oxide fuel cell for degradation diagnosis Gazzarri, Javier Ignacio


A numerical model of the steady state and alternating current behaviour of a solid-oxide fuel cell is presented to explore the possibilities to diagnose and identify degradation mechanisms in a minimally invasive way using impedance spectroscopy. This is the first report of an SOFC impedance model to incorporate degradation, as well as the first one to include the ribbed interconnect geometry, using a 2-D approximation. Simulated degradation modes include: electrode/electrolyte delamination, interconnect oxidation, interconnect/electrode interface detachment, and anode sulfur poisoning. Detailed electrode-level simulation replaces the traditional equivalent circuit approach, allowing the simulation of degradation mechanisms that alter the shape of the current path. The SOFC impedance results from calculating the cell response to a small oscillatory perturbation in potential. Starting from the general equations for mass and charge transport, and assuming isothermal and isobaric conditions, the system variables are decomposed into a steady-state component and a small perturbation around the operating point. On account of the small size of the imposed perturbation, the time dependence is eliminated, and the original equations are converted to a new linear, time independent, complex-valued system, which is very convenient from a numerical viewpoint. Geometrical and physical modifications of the model simulate the aforementioned degradation modes, causing variations in the impedance. The possibility to detect unique impedance signatures is discussed, along with a study of the impact of input parameter inaccuracies and parameter interaction on the presented results. Finally, a study of pairs of concurrent degradation modes reveals the method’s strengths and limitations in terms of its diagnosis capabilities.

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