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Neutrons—Fueling better power

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Posted February 5, 2019
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A University of South Carolina research team is investigating the oxygen reduction performance of energy conversion materials called perovskites by using neutron diffraction at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Spallation Neutron Source.

Researchers analyzed the oxygen structure (highlighted in red) found in a perovskite’s crystal structure at room temperature, 500°C and 900°C using neutron scattering at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source. Analyzing how these structures impact solid oxide fuel cells could lead to the development of new, improved materials. Credit: Kevin Huang/University of South Carolina

Perovskites are core components of solid oxide fuel cells, which can be utilized for distributed power generation in remote areas or for backup power at data centers. Neutrons’ sensitivity to light elements like oxygen allow them to accurately probe the perovskites’ structures and reveal how they influence the fuel cell’s performance. Using a furnace in the VULCAN beamline, the team mimicked a fuel cell’s typical environmental conditions.

“VULCAN’s unique high-temperature capability allowed us to see the perovskites’ structures in their operating conditions,” said USC’s Kevin Huang, the corresponding author. “Better understanding this structure-property relationship could allow us to enable better power generation performance by optimizing materials.”

Source: ORNL

 

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