Energy security coupled with advantage of using various types of fuel is uplifting the solid oxide fuel cells market. Solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) is a device that is used to produce electricity directly from a fuel by oxidizing it. The device uses electrochemical conversion. An electrolyte material used in a fuel cell characterized them. The solid oxide fuel cell consists of a ceramic or solid oxide as electrolyte. Solid electrolyte conducts negative oxygen ions to the anode from the cathode. Recently, proton conducting solid oxide fuel cells (PC-SOCF) is developed. Instead of oxygen, these cells transport protons. This helps the proton conducting solid oxide fuel cells to work at low temperature.
Solid oxide fuel cells are made up of four layers. Ceramics comprise of the three layers. A “SOFC stack” is formed by connecting hundreds of solid oxide fuel cells in series. A temperature of 500 degree Celsius to 1000 degree Celsius is required to ionically or electrically activate these cells. Efforts are made by the research and development companies to reduce the operating temperature of solid oxide fuel cells which will ultimately reduce the cost of material used to make them. This will also enable the use of metals with better thermal conductivity and mechanical properties. Although, the solid oxide fuel cells have achieved stable operation on a variety of hydrocarbon fuels. Still efforts are made to improve their fuel flexibility. Owing to their fuel flexibility, the solid oxide fuel cells can operate on partially reformed diesel.
On the basis of type, the solid oxide fuel cells market can be segmented into planar solid oxide fuel cell, thin film solid oxide fuel cell and tubular solid oxide fuel cell. Fuel cells are used in a multiple applications. The solid oxide fuel cells market can be segmented on the basis of applications into transport, military, portable products, aircrafts, generators and others. The solid oxide fuel cells used in auxiliary vehicle or as stationary power generation have a capability of producing outputs from 100 watts to 2 MW.
Investments are made by companies in research and development of solid oxide fuel cells. The improved class of cells resulted in fuel flexibility, long term stability and high efficiency. Apart from these advantages, relatively low cost and low emission has boosted the solid oxide fuel cells market. These advancements in the solid oxide fuel cells are expected to elevate the market of solid oxide fuel cells during the forecast period. However, high operating temperature which hampers the performance of cells is hampering the growth of the solid oxide fuel cells market. High operating temperature results in issues such chemical and mechanical compatibility and the longer start up time. Fuel cells are considered as potential candidates for mobile power, auxiliary power. This will ultimately create an opportunity for the solid oxide fuel cells market in the coming years.
Some of the key players in the solid oxide fuel cells market include Altair Nanotechnologies Inc., Adaptive Materials, Inc., The Babcock & Wilcox Co., Chevron Technology, SOFCpower, Delphi Automotive LLP, NexTech Materials, Protonex, Redox Power Systems, LLC, Sunfire GmbH, KERAFOL Keramische Folien GmbH, Rolls-Royce plc, DDI Energy Inc. and Point Source Power, Inc. among others.
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