The electrochemical performance of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) is significantly influenced by three-phase boundary (TPB) zones in the microstructure. TPB zones are locations where all three phases comprising the microstructure such as the two solid phases and the pore phase are present. Electrochemical reactions such as oxygen reduction occur near TPBs, and TPB density is believed to affect the polarization resistance of the cathode. In this regard, the effect of interface degradation under repeated thermal loading on the mechanical integrity and electrochemical performance of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) electrodes is studied through finite element simulations. Image-based 3-D models are used in this study, with additional interface zones at the boundaries between dissimilar solid phases. These interface zones are composed of 3-D cohesive elements of small thickness. The effect of interface degradation on mechanical integrity is studied by subjecting 50:50 LSM:YSZ wt.% cathode models to increasing levels of thermal load from room temperature (20°C) up to operating temperature (820°C). Energy quantities (e.g., strain energy and damage dissipation) for cathode models with and without cohesive interface zones are obtained through finite element analysis (FEA). These quantities are compared using energy balance concepts from fracture mechanics to gain insight into the effects of interface degradation on mechanical integrity.
Part of the book: Selected Problems of Contemporary Thermomechanics