Additive manufacturing of thin electrolyte layers via inkjet printing of highly-stable ceramic inks

Abstract

Inkjet printing is a promising alternative for the fabrication of thin film components for solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) due to its contactless, mask free, and controllable printing process. In order to obtain satisfying electrolyte thin layer structures in anode-supported SOFCs, the preparation of suitable electrolyte ceramic inks is a key. At present, such a kind of 8 mol% Y2O3-stabilized ZrO2 (8YSZ) electrolyte ceramic ink with long-term stability and high solid loading (> 15 wt%) seems rare for precise inkjet printing, and a number of characterization and performance aspects of the inks, such as homogeneity, viscosity, and printability, should be studied. In this study, 8YSZ ceramic inks of varied compositions were developed for inkjet printing of SOFC ceramic electrolyte layers. The dispersing effect of two types of dispersants, i.e., polyacrylic acid ammonium (PAANH4) and polyacrylic acid (PAA), were compared. The results show that ultrasonic dispersion treatment can help effectively disperse the ceramic particles in the inks. PAANH4 has a better dispersion effect for the inks developed in this study. The inks show excellent printable performance in the actual printing process. The stability of the ink can be maintained for a storage period of over 30 days with the help of initial ultrasonic dispersion. Finally, micron-size thin 8YSZ electrolyte films were successfully fabricated through inkjet printing and sintering, based on the as-developed high solid loading 8YSZ inks (20 wt%). The films show fully dense and intact structural morphology and smooth interfacial bonding, offering an improved structural quality of electrolyte for enhanced SOFC performance.

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Acknowledgements

This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51975384), Guangdong Basic and Applied Basic Research Foundation (2020A1515011547), Natural Science Foundation of Shenzhen (JCYJ20190808144009478), and Key-Area Research and Development Program of Guangdong Province (2020B090924003).

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Correspondence to Zhangwei Chen.

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Zhu, Z., Gong, Z., Qu, P. et al. Additive manufacturing of thin electrolyte layers via inkjet printing of highly-stable ceramic inks. J Adv Ceram (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40145-020-0439-9

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Keywords

  • inkjet printing
  • water-based ceramic ink
  • solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) electrolyte
  • 8YSZ
  • ink stability
  • rheological properties