The National Research Council is the government of Canada’s main research and development organization . Daniel Au spent his co-op term working there under the supervision of Dr. Gisele Amow (Defence R&D Canada), performing research on novel cathode materials for intermediate temperature solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs). Solid oxide fuel cells consist of a cathode, anode, and electrolyte. Originally, they operated at temperatures around 1000ºC, but these high temperatures led to thermal and chemical degradation. Current research focuses on intermediate temperature SOFCs, which operate in the range of 650ºC to 800ºC. Because of the decreased temperature range, there is an opportunity to increase the performance of the cathode material by utilizing materials different from those traditionally used at higher temperatures.
Dr. Amow’s goal was to discover a cathode material better suited to the temperature range of intermediate temperature solid-oxide fuel cells. Daniel’s job was to synthesize and characterize these novel cathode materials.
This case study covers concepts to introduce students to material synthesis. Students at the end of the case should be able to select methods for material characterization based on the requirements of the final application.