University of St. Andrews

Scotland's first university

The Irvine Group, which involves some 30 researchers, has developed a new concept in solid oxide fuel cell design based on tapecasting leading to the spinout company St. Andrews Fuel Cells. Important achievements have also been made in the search for new oxide anodes with enhanced capability for hydrocarbon oxidation. Efficient and prolonged operation has also been observed in hydrocarbon based fuels this, we believe shows for the first time a non-cermet electrode that can compete with nickel based cermets, but with the stability advantages of an oxide. The group sees its primary role in the future relating to utilisation of more complex fuels in fuel cells and indeed St Andrews fronts the Fuel Utilisation work package of the UK Supergen Fuel Cell Consortium. Other research strengths relate to basic studies of structure and function of fuel cell materials, development of Intermediate Temperature ceramic proton conductors for fuel cell and high temperature electrolysis applications and reversible fuel cells for storage of intermittent power. Important advances have been made utilising carbon fuels from waste, coal or biomass and ongoing work seeks to address direct biogas utilisation in SOFCs.

The Baker Group
We are interested in the relationship between the electrochemical performance of functional materials for fuel cell components and their structure and composition on scales down to the atomic. The majority of our research is aimed at materials, especially electrolytes and anode catalysts, for Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs). After synthesis, we employ a range of techniques to characterise these materials, especially High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy, electrochemical techniques such as Impedance spectroscopy and a range of catalyst characterisation methods. We are involved in several UK research projects including the EPSRC Supergen 3 collaboration, “Powering a Greener Future”, where we are responsible for characterisation of materials for high and intermediate temperature SOFCs as well as for Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells, and for medium to long-term studies of fuel cell degradation and failure mechanisms. Related areas of research interest are in heterogeneous catalysts, for example for automotive pollution abatement, and Electro-active Polymer systems for "soft actuator" devices.

We are interested in developing technologies to produce hydrogen from electricity, to buffer intermittency and to utilise biomass including bioethanol in CHP applications. We are keen to integrate our activities with other areas and stages of technology development and implementation.