Innovative SOFC Architecture based on Triode Operation

Framework Programme: 
Call for proposals: 
Application area: 
Stationary power production and CHP


  • The investigation of triode design and operation in SOFC technology;
  • The investigation of the synergetic effect of advanced Ni‐based cermet anodes modified via doping with a second or a third metal in conjunction with triode operation, in order to control the rate of carbon deposition and sulphur poisoning;
  • The development of a detailed mathematical model in order to describe the triode mechanism at the molecular level;
  • Proof of the triode concept through the development and performance evaluation of a prototype triode stack.


The demonstration of triode architectures is expected to enhance SOFC power output and overall thermodynamic efficiency while primarily offering a unique tool for controlling the rate of carbon deposition and poisoning by fuel impurities. A synergetic phenomenon, which will combine the advanced characteristics of modified Ni-based cermet and triode cell design should therefore significantly improve efficiency in direct hydrocarbon SOFCs and reduce deactivation rates. This enables reliable operation even at substantially lower temperatures with a wide range of usable fuels.


The development of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) operating on hydrocarbon fuels (natural gas, biofuel, LPG) is the key to their short to medium term broad commercialization. The development of direct HC SOFCs still meets a lot of challenges and problems arising from the fact that the anode materials operate under severe conditions leading to low activity towards reforming and oxidation reactions, fast deactivation due to carbon formation and instability due to the presence of sulphur compounds. Although research on these issues is intensive, no major technological breakthroughs have been realized so far with respect to robust operation, sufficient lifetime and competitive cost.

T-CELL proposes a novel electrochemical approach aiming at tackling these problems by a comprehensive effort to define, explore, characterize, develop and realize a radically new triode approach to SOFC technology together with a novel, advanced architecture for cell and stack design. This advance will be accomplished by means of an integrated approach based both on materials development and on the deployment of an innovative cell design that permits the effective control of electrocatalytic activity under steam or dry reforming conditions. The novelty of the proposed work lies in the pioneering effort to apply Ni-modified materials electrodes of proven advanced tolerance, as anodic electrodes in SOFCs and in the exploitation of the novel triode SOFC concept which introduces a new controllable variable into fuel cell operation.

In order to provide a proof-of-concept of the stackability of triode cells, a prototype triode SOFC stack consisting of at least 4 repeating units will be developed and its performance will be evaluated under methane and steam co-feed, in presence of small concentration of sulphur compound.

Success of the overall ambitious objectives of the proposed project will result in major progress beyond the current state-of-the-art and will open entirely new perspectives in cell and stack design.

Project reference: 
SP1-JTI-FCH.2011.3.1 Next generation stack and cell design
Project type: 
Research and technological development
Contract type: 
Collaborative Project
Start date: 
Saturday, September 1, 2012
End date: 
Monday, February 29, 2016
36 months (originally), extended to 42 months
Project cost: 
€ 3,424,167.80
Project funding: 
€ 1,796,267

Centre for Research & Technology Hellas, Greece

Contact email: 
Other participating organisations: 
Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas Greece
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique France
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne Switzerland
MANTIS Deposition LTD UK
Prototech AS Norway
SOFCpower Italy


Publisheable Reports: 
D. K. Niakolas , C. Neofytides , S. G. Neophytides , D. Tsiplakides , K.-M. Papazisi , S. Balomenou; Carbon Tolerant Electrodes for SOFC and Reversible SOFC (RSOFC) Cells Operating on Carbon Containing Fuels
Ioanna Petrakopoulou , Dimitrios Tsiplakides , Stella Balomenou; Enhanced Carbon Deposition Tolerance of SOFC Anodes Under Triode Operation
Francisco J. Garcia-Garcia , Francisco Yubero , Agustin R. González-Elipe , Stella P. Balomenou , Dimitris Tsiplakides , Ioanna Petrakopoulou , Richa; Porous, robust highly conducting Ni-YSZ thin film anodes prepared by magnetron sputtering at oblique angles for application as anodes and buffer layers in solid oxide fuel cells
Dimitrios K. Niakolas; Sulfur poisoning of Ni-based anodes for Solid Oxide Fuel Cells in H/C-based fuels
Ch. Neofytidis , M. Athanasiou , S. G. Neophytides , D. K. Niakolas; Sulfur Tolerance of Au–Mο–Ni/GDC SOFC Anodes Under Various CH4 Internal Steam Reforming Conditions
Foteini M. Sapountzi , Michail N. Tsampas , Chunhua Zhao , Antoinette Boreave , Laurence Retailleau , Dario Montinaro , Philippe Vernoux; Triode operation for enhancing the performance of H2S-poisoned SOFCs operated under CH4–H2O mixtures