Scientists at the University of Birmingham develop a new cathode ink for making Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

Until now the development of water-based cathode inks for use in Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) has been unsuccessful but work taking place at the Centre for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Research at the University of Birmingham has made a significant breakthrough.

Driven by the need for environmentally friendly energy generation there is a growing market for Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) that have a strong industrial focus.  SOFCs offer an efficient, fuel flexible, low emission and relatively low cost means of producing electricity. The commercial applications of SOFCs include combined heat and power plants for homes and offices, stationary power generation and smaller mobile units for civil and military use to name but a few.

One of the most popular methods for producing the cathode of the current generation of SOFCs involves the use of organic solvent based inks; using solvents such as acetone or iso-propanol. These inks can provide a number of challenges when used, and scientists at the University of Birmingham have been looking to find a more efficient and environmentally friendly solution.

A new water-based ink has been developed, which is less volatile than the inks currently used in the manufacture of SOFCs.  This means the new ink can be stored for longer and also that dip-coating can take place without any surface drying issues.   This new water based system could also overcome the problems around handling solvents and potential environmental issues around using solvents.  Furthermore, the electrical performance of fuel cells made with this new ink system, have outperformed previously-used acetone-based systems in laboratory conditions.

Katie Howe, who has led the research at the University of Birmingham said “Development of this technology should lead to easier manufacture of cells because the ink needed can be handled, stored and applied more easily.  Using water instead of an organic solvent also lowers the cost and increases availability.”

This is just one example of a technology available for license through the University of Birmingham’s technology transfer company, Alta Innovations Ltd

Note to editor:

Alta Innovations Ltd is the technology transfer Office of The University of Birmingham and is responsible for the commercialisation of research undertaken at the University. Alta Innovations links academic research with business through licensing and spinout activity, collaborative research and consultancy projects to generate the new ideas, technologies and processes required to achieve competitive advantage.

For more information contact:

John Pearson

Business Development Manager

Alta Innovations Ltd

Tel: +44 (0)121 414 8632