“Can recharge cell phones and drones using the fuel cells—a next-generation pollution-free energy system”
- Made an important research achievement in transforming various fuels, such as hydrogen, natural gas, and alcohol, into electric power
- Developed fuel cells that have improved the maximum performance of existing low-temperature solid oxide fuel cells by over 50%
As fine dust has become a major environmental and health concern nationwide, the Korean academe has been actively researching next-generation energy systems that emit no pollutants.
The research team of Professor Ahn Ji-hwan of the Department of the Smart Production Fusion System Engineering and MSDE major of the Department of Global Fusion Industrial Engineering of the Seoul National University of Science and Technology (hereinafter referred to as SeoulTech; from the left, Professor Ahn Ji-hwan, Main Author Oh Seong-guk in the master’s program, and Corresponding Authors Sin Jeong-u and Yang Byeong-chan in the master’s program) recently succeeded at “developing high-performance, low-temperature solid oxide fuel cells that have applied inorganic thin-film electrolytes” through semiconductor processing.
Solid oxide fuel cells can transform not only hydrogen but also natural gas, alcohol, and other various fuels into highly efficient electric power. Thus, they are drawing much attention as the next-generation fuel cells. In particular, low-temperature solid oxide fuel cells that operate at a temperature below 500℃ can be used in many areas of everyday life, including as power for cell phones, making them more usable than existing solid oxide fuel cells that operate at a temperature of over 800℃. However, the fact that its operation at low temperature weakened performance had been a large stumbling block to its commercialization.
▲ Structural diagram of the sandwich-type ultrathin-film electrolytes produced through the latest semiconductor process that uses an atomic layer deposition method and the high-performance low-temperature
solid oxide fuel cell system that uses such electrolytes
The research team optimally designed and produced fuel cell electrolyte film shaped like a sandwich by applying atomic layer deposition processing on porous nanostructure boards. The atomic layer deposition method is technologically used to precisely deposit thin films in atomic layer units. The method has been used to develop high-performance thin-film fuel cells that have improved the maximum performance of the existing low-temperature solid oxide fuel cells by over 50%. In addition, the process is expected to shorten the time it takes to commercialize solid oxide fuel cells because it allows the cells to be easily mass-produced.
The research findings can be applied to recharging cell phones and notebook computers without worrying about electric discharge, thanks to the energy found in the cells that is a dozen times denser than in existing batteries. In particular, it has recently been recognized for its use on drone power systems because it can enable drones to fly continuously for over 4 hr.
▲ Cover page drawing of the Journal of Materials Chemistry, Royal Society of Chemistry of the United Kingdom
The study findings were published as the front cover article in the Journal of Materials Chemistry (IF 8.867), which is the best science journal in the field of chemistry published by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
The research was conducted with the support of the Korean Ministry of Education’s project to support basic individual research in the sciences and engineering field and the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy’s project to foster talents that specialize in creative fusion. Aside from Professor Ahn, Professor Jang Dong-yeong of SeoulTech, Doctor Park Jun-seok of Stanford University, United States, and Doctor Jiaming Zhang of Hewlett Packard Labs, participated in the research.