UCSD Fuel Cell Team Demonstrated Record Performance for Zirconia-Based Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

December 5, 2018

The UCSD Fuel Cell Team recently demonstrated the best cell performance for zirconia-based solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) at reduced temperatures (600oC-650oC vs. present operating temperatures of 750oC-800oC). Peak power densities of ~2 W/cm2 and 1.7 W/cm2 were achieved with hydrogen fuel at 650oC and 600oC, respectively. The SOFC exhibiting these extraordinary performances is a thin-film multilayer structure fabricated by a sputtering process developed by the team. The cell is based conventional configurations made of common SOFC materials: a fully dense yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) electrolyte sandwiched between a porous lanthanum strontium cobalt iron (LSCF) perovskite-YSZ nanostructured cathode with a gadolinium doped ceria (GDC) interlayer, and a porous Ni-YSZ nanostructured anode. A scanning electron microscope (SEM) micrograph of the cell, cross-sectioned by focused ion beam (FIB), along with cell performance curves are shown below in the figure. The UCSD Fuel Cell Team consists of Principal Investigator Dr. Nguyen Minh, his Postdoctoral Scholar Dr. Yoon Ho Lee, and Visiting Scholar Dr. Tuyen Tran of UCSD/CER, Prof. Eric Fullerton and his graduate student Haowen Ren of UCSD/CMRR, and Prof. Shirley Meng and her graduate student Erik Wu of UCSD/NanoEngineering. This work is performed under the project “Innovative, Versatile and Cost-Effective Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Stack Concept” funded by the US Department of Energy/National Energy Technology Laboratory (DOE/NETL). The research on high-performance SOFCs at reduced operating temperatures is an element of the project to develop an efficient, reliable and cost-effective fuel cell technology for future commercialization.

 Minh News
Micrograph of Cell Microstructure (Left) and Cell Performance Curves (Right)

The SOFC is an all-solid fuel cell known for its fuel flexibility. The main attractive feature of this type of fuel cell is its clean and efficient generation of electricity from a variety of fuels. Suitable fuels include hydrogen, natural gas, biogas, alcohol, gasoline, diesel, coal gas and other practical fuels. SOFCs are being considered for a broad spectrum of power generation applications, ranging from watt-size devices to multi-megawatt power plants, covering all market sectors (mobile/portable, transportation, stationary). SOFCs when operated in reverse (electrolysis) mode can also be used to produce hydrogen (from water) or oxygen (from carbon dioxide for example). Potential applications in this case include industrial production of hydrogen, hydrogen for energy storage and oxygen generation for space use.

Experiment shows laser-driven proton beam makes warm, dense samples with surprising material dependence

December 3, 2018

A team led by Center for Energy Research scientists Chris McGuffey, Joohwan Kim, and Prof. Farhat Beg have shown that proton beams, which are well-studied products of intense lasers, can locally heat a gold sample to over 35 eV, or 400,000 degrees. But, surprisingly, the heating strongly depended on what material was in front of the gold, suggesting that the energy lost by the beam in the hot materials is far different from what existing cold models predict. The experiment was carried out at the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Trident Laser at Los Alamos National Laboratory with collaborators at Trident, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, General Atomics, the University of Alberta, and the Ohio State University. The work is described in an article published today in Nature’s online journal Scientific Reports.


Farhat Beg Named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

November 27, 2018

Four researchers at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the largest general science organization in the United States and publisher of the journal Science.

Farhat Beg, Rajesh Gupta, Pavel Pevzner and Liangfang Zhang join a total of 416 AAAS members that have been awarded this honor because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. New Fellows will recognized during a ceremony Saturday, Feb. 16, from 8 to 10 a.m. Eastern Time at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2019 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. This year’s AAAS Fellows also will be formally announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of the journal Science Nov. 29, 2018.


NNSA Awards New Coorperative Agreements to Advance Nuclear Stockpile Science

October 15, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) has designated four new Centers of Excellence at universities across the nation as part of the Stewardship Science Academic Alliances (SSAA) Program.

The four new centers bring the total number of SSAA Centers of Excellence to eight. The centers enrich graduate education and training while also facilitating interactions between NNSA National Laboratory scientists and emerging leaders in academia.

“These cooperative agreements strengthen the Nuclear Security Enterprise by advancing areas of science relevant to the stockpile stewardship mission and ensuring a pipeline of future scientists to carry out that mission,” said Dr. Kathleen Alexander, Assistant Deputy Administrator for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation in NNSA’s Office of Defense Programs.
The University of California San Diego will receive $10.5 million over 5 years to manage the Center for Matter under Extreme Conditions. Dr. Farhat Beg will lead research and technological breakthroughs in high-energy density physics while training graduate students at the participating campuses and NNSA National Laboratories. The work will have an emphasis on creation and diagnosis of extreme states of matter—both magnetized and unmagnetized—utilizing computer modeling and experiments to develop a better understanding of high-energy density systems.

View the UC San Diego Press Release     |     View the NNSA Press Release


2018 John Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research Recipient

July 9, 2018

"For the first experimental demonstration of the stabilization of edge localized modes in high-confinement diverted discharges by application of very small edge-resonant magnetic perturbations, leading to the adoption of suppression coils in the ITER design."
Richard A. Moyer is also a senior lecturer of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. His research focuses on understanding and controlling transients in tokamak plasmas that can limit the performance or damage the device, with a goal of developing actuators to suppress or mitigate the consequences of these events.
The 2018 John Dawson Award is based in part on research done at DIII-D, a U.S. Department of Energy user facility operated by General Atomics in San Diego. More.



July 10, 2018

Union City Site Now Using Recycled BMW i3 Car Batteries to Store Energy During Peak Solar and Reduce Strain on the Grid.  More. 


Port of San Diego to Install a Solar-Powered Microgrid with $5 Million Grant from California Energy Commission

June 20, 2018

UCSD was selected as a DOE Award for Concentratd Solar Power Award!  More. 


DOE Award for Concentrated Solar Power

June 12, 2018



Platform for EV charging research and innovation: University of California San Diego and partners

April 26, 2018

UCSD was selected as a GTM 2018 Grid Edge Innovation Award!  More. 


Department of Defense Announces FY18 Research Equipment Awards

April 3, 2018

The Department of Defense announced awards to 175 university researchers at 91 institutions in 36 states, totaling $53 million through the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program. Among those selected for funding was Farhat Beg's proposal titled, "Compact Pulsed Power Driver for Research on Energy Transfer and Interface Dynamics in High Energy Density Plasmas". more...


A Power Player for San Diego

April 5, 2018

UC San Diego’s Center for Energy Research, which helped to develop the innovative power grid that allows the campus to generate most of its own energy while pumping less carbon into the atmosphere, is extending its expertise to the rest of the San Diego region. more...

Jan Kleissl


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