Lowering the operating temperature of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) to the intermediate range (500-700 °C) has become one of the main SOFC research goals. High operating temperatures put numerous requirements on materials selection and on secondary units, limiting the commercial development of SOFCs. The present review first focuses on the main effects of reducing the operating temperature in terms of materials stability, thermo-mechanical mismatch, thermal management and efficiency. After a brief survey of the state-of-the-art materials for SOFCs, attention is focused on emerging oxide-ionic conductors with high conductivity in the intermediate range of temperatures with an introductory section on materials technology for reducing the electrolyte thickness. Finally, recent advances in cathode materials based on layered mixed ionic-electronic conductors are highlighted because the decreasing temperature converts the cathode into the major source of electrical losses for the whole SOFC system. It is concluded that the introduction of alternative materials that would enable solid oxide fuel cells to operate in the intermediate range of temperatures would have a major impact on the commercialization of fuel cell technology. © 2009 by the authors; licensee Molecular Diversity Preservation International, Basel, Switzerland.
- Layered cathode