By Cameron Chai
ThyssenKrupp VDM and the Julich Research Center have created an enhanced high-performance material called Crofer 22 H for solid oxide fuel cells. The novel material is ready for commercial production through a multi-year project that includes other industrial partners.
Crofer 22 H finds applications in the production of lightweight fuel cell stacks used in vehicles. ThyssenKrupp VDM’s Head of Research and Development, Jutta Klower stated that the development of a commercial-scale manufacturing process was the main objective behind the Crofer 22 H work, which now allows the company to deliver low-cost alloy for applications in fuel cell interconnects.
The innovative material is ideal for compact decentralized household systems, large-scale energy supply units and automotive applications. It is specially designed for use in high-temperature fuel cells. It comprises 20% to 24% of chromium and the remaining alloying materials are lanthanum, titanium, niobium and tungsten. The readily formable material demonstrates superior resistance to corrosion at temperatures of the order of 900° C, superior mechanical strength and high electrical conductivity. ThyssenKrupp VDM in partnership with Julich Research Center improved the material’s properties under the research program named ‘ZEUS III.’
Crofer 22 H also demonstrates superior thermal expansion comparable with that of the ceramic materials utilized in the fuel cells. The Julich Research Center’s Robert Steinberger-Wilckens stated that the commercial production of this material will lower the production costs of fuel cells, which in turn decreases the system prices. The novel material eliminates the melting process conducted in a vacuum induction furnace, resulting in a considerable decrease in the production expenditures, Klower added.
Besides being utilized as a secondary power unit in ships, aircraft, truck and cars, fuel cells find applications as a power source for buildings and small or large integrated power and heat plants. Fuel cells more efficiently generate electricity and heat without hazardous emissions for private vehicles and homes.