“Simply print fuel cells with your inkjet printers”

A technology has been developed to print ceramic fuel cells using commercial inkjet printers.

Professor Shim Joon-hyung’s paper has been published in the ACS Energy Letters, a leading academic journal in the field of energy.

 

▲ (From left) Prof. Shim Joon-hyung (chief of research and corresponding author) 

and Dr. Han Gwon-deok (first author)

 

Korea University has developed the technology to produce high-performance ceramic fuel cells using commercial inkjet printers.

 

A team led by professor Shim Joon-hyung, Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering, has succeeded in developing the technology to inkjet-print solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs).

 

The results of this research, in which Dr. Han Gwon-deok participated as the first author, were published on-line in ACS Energy Letters (IF: 16.331), top 1.9% in JCR, on April 21, 2020 (Korea time). The study was conducted as a part of a project by the Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning (represented by Director Lim Chun-taek) under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

* Research title: Inkjet printing for manufacturing solid oxide fuel cells

 

Inkjet printing is a technology which is widely used for various printing occasions ranging from home printing to large materials. If functional substances such as metal or ceramic are added to the ink, certain products can be printed as if printing text on paper. The key to this technology is to synthesize a stabilized ink that can be sprayed through the electrostatic nozzle. The KU research team succeeded in synthesizing various ceramic inks such as NiO, YSZ, GDC, and PBSCF, which have such flow characteristics. When these inks are installed in a single printer, a complete SOFC can be created, not just a part of the cell.

 

It is especially noticeable that such synthesized ink can be used for inkjet printers at home. Professor Shim’s team announced that all the SOFCs used in the research were produced with an HP printer worth about KRW 100,000. The output of the fuel cell produced in such a way is 650 degrees Celsius and 0.7W/cm2, which is comparable to a commercial product. Moreover, it is also possible to print these materials on a relatively large scale, as if “drawing a picture.” The program used for printing was MS PowerPoint.

 

 

▲ Image 1: Cross-section of a single-sided SOFC printed using a commercial inkjet printer. An example of printing a random image pattern using PBSCF, an SOFC anode material.

 

The developed technology is expected to be used not only for SOFC, but also for producing various thin film products that require precise control of complex components. For example, if the user prints purple after filling the red ink cartridge with substance A and filling the blue ink cartridge with substance B, an AB composite film can be printed. In addition, the ratio of A and B can be freely adjusted by changing the color to “dark purple” or “light purple.” The research also confirmed that the pore structure of the material can be adjusted by controlling the color saturation.

 

Professor Shim said, “This study proves that inkjet printing can be used as a technology for the mass production of SOFCs. Since inkjet printing is already widely used in the industry for various priting, including large prints, we anticipate that this new finding can be widely applied to various thin products and not confined to the development of mere fuel cells.”