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Posted: Apr 04, 2011

SiEnergy Systems Demonstrates Breakthrough Scalability of its Nanometric Thin Film Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

(Nanowerk News) SiEnergy Systems, an Allied Minds company commercializing thin film solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology from Harvard University, is pleased to announce breakthrough results in scaling up the active area of its nanometric thin film SOFC. Principal Scientist, Masaru Tsuchiya, made this advancement in collaboration with Harvard University researchers, Dr. Bo-Kuai Lai and Professor Shriram Ramanathan.
In a paper published in the April 3, 2011 online issue of Nature Nanotechnology ("Scalable nanostructured membranes for solid-oxide fuel cells"), the researchers presented thermomechanically stable, nanometer scale electrolyte membranes with lateral dimensions on the scale of millimeters to centimeters. A metal grid placed adjacent to the fuel cell provided mechanical stability as well as enhanced electrical conductance. The demonstrated performance includes a power density of over 150 mW/cm2 at 510C with a platinum-free cathode, and a total power output of over 20mW from a single fuel cell chip, the leading performance among nanometric thin film SOFCs.
The breakthrough has practical relevance for the broad commercialization of fuel cells since thin film SOFC s offer three major advantages over conventional SOFCs:
1. They reduce the amount of materials required in making fuel cells, including rare-earth elements such as yttrium and lanthanum, thus significantly reducing the material cost of SOFCs.
2. The grid's structure reduced the potential of breakage compared to other thin film SOFC.
3. Enhanced conductance across the nanometric thin film electrolytes enables operation at a commercially advantageous temperature of 350-550C. Conventional SOFC temperatures (600-1,000C) make them more susceptible to corrosion and requires more materials for insulation.
"Although proof-of-concept nanometric thin film SOFCs operating at 350-550C have been demonstrated before, their scalability has remained a significant challenge till now. We have successfully demonstrated scalability of nanometer thin film SOFC technology through careful optimization of metallic grid design and oxide deposition parameters," says Dr. Tsuchiya, Principal Scientist at SiEnergy and the lead author of the paper.
SiEnergy is currently expanding its operations to accelerate the commercialization of its novel thin film SOFC technology.
About SiEnergy Systems, LLC
SiEnergy Systems is a privately held startup company formed by Allied Minds, Inc. to commercialize proprietary thin film solid oxide fuel cell technology developed at Harvard University. The technology uses inexpensive micro-fabrication methods to create SOFCs with nanometer scale electrolytes that operate at low temperature, use less material, and are scalable to meet various power requirements. The "Silicon Energy" reduces the cost of SOFCs and creates clean and affordable mobile and small stationary power sources.
About Allied Minds, Inc.
Allied Minds is a $250M private equity-funded innovation company with offices in Boston and Los Angeles. The company creates startup businesses based on early-stage technology developed at U.S. universities and national labs, and serves as a holding company that supports these businesses with capital, management and shared services. Allied Minds is the premier firm to utilize this novel and fully integrated approach to technology investing. The company's subsidiary investments span multiple business sectors and offer an attractive risk-return profile, a deliverable timeline and potential products that will be groundbreaking in their respective fields.
Source: SiEnergy Systems (press release)
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