Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), oxygen membranes and solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOEC) systems are conventionally supported on ceramics, metals and cermets, which operated at very high temperatures in the range of 500-1000°C. Creep and mechanical strength degradation become very serious in this condition. Mechanical reinforcement is a general requirement to improve the high temperature reliability and durability of these components.

The purpose of this project is to reinforce ceramic/metallic supports for SOFC and other electrochemical devices by using continuous ceramic nanofibers with designed strength and composition, without altering the functional properties of the components. The desired ceramic nanofibers are proposed to be fabricated by using electrospinning (ES) technique, which is a versatile and inexpensive technique to fabricate fine fibers.

Another objective of the project is to develop processing methodologies for fibers-matrix integration, aimed to achieve mechanical reinforcement. This is carried out by combining ES with other conventional and/or advanced processing techniques such as tape casting, infiltration, and field assisted sintering, etc. Fibers/matrix interface optimization is central in the final reinforcement and different processing steps will aim to optimized configuration and orientation of the fibers. Such design can eventually result synergetic in opening new scenarios for the fabrication of thin/thick layers, porous/dense ceramic and metallic bodies with highly improved mechanical properties. The matrix materials used in this project will be the state-of-the-art advanced functional materials for SOFC, oxygen membranes and SOEC.

Nanofiber compositions will be selected among structural ceramic materials which could present chemical and electrical properties compatible with the matrix support. Even though the project is mainly directed to SOFC, the outcome and findings can also be used for many other technologies associated with mechanical reinforcement of ceramics and metals for high temperature applications.