Interactions of nickel/zirconia solid oxide fuel cell anodes with coal gas containing arsenic

C. A. Coyle, O. A. Marina, E. C. Thomsen, D. J. Edwards, C. D. Cramer, G. W. Coffey, L. R. Pederson

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    The performance of anode-supported and electrolyte-supported solid oxide fuel cells was investigated in synthetic coal gas containing 0-10 ppm arsenic at 700-800 °C. Arsenic was found to interact strongly with nickel, resulting in the formation of nickel-arsenic solid solution, Ni5As2 and Ni11As8, depending on temperature, arsenic concentration, and reaction time. For anode-supported cells, loss of electrical connectivity in the anode support was the principal mode of degradation, as nickel was converted to nickel arsenide phases that migrated to the surface to form large grains. Cell failure occurred well before the entire anode was converted to nickel arsenide, and followed a reciprocal square root of arsenic partial pressure dependence that is consistent with a diffusion-based rate-limiting step. Failure occurred more quickly with electrolyte-supported cells, which have a substantially smaller nickel inventory. For these cells, time to failure varied linearly with the reciprocal arsenic concentration. Failure occurred when arsenic reached the anode/electrolyte interface, though agglomeration of nickel reaction products may have also contributed. Test performed with nickel/zirconia coupons showed that arsenic was essentially completely captured in a narrow band near the fuel gas inlet. Arsenic concentrations of ∼10 ppb or less are estimated to result in acceptable rates of fuel cell degradation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)730-738
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Power Sources
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 5 Sep 2009



    • Anode
    • Arsenic
    • Coal gas
    • Degradation
    • Nickel
    • SOFC

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
    • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
    • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
    • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

    Cite this

    Coyle, C. A., Marina, O. A., Thomsen, E. C., Edwards, D. J., Cramer, C. D., Coffey, G. W., & Pederson, L. R. (2009). Interactions of nickel/zirconia solid oxide fuel cell anodes with coal gas containing arsenic. Journal of Power Sources, 193(2), 730-738.