"Solid Oxide Cell and Stack Testing, Safety and Quality Assurance " (SOCTESQA)

The objective of SOCTESQA is to develop uniform and industry wide test procedures for high temperature solid oxide cells (SOCs). These procedures address both the solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) and the solid oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC) technologies. The project builds on the experience and the methodology gained in previous European projects, e.g. “FCTESTNET” and “FCTESQA ”. These projects focused mainly on single cell tests and system level tests under steady state conditions. On the other hand the on-going “STACKTEST” project concerns only low temperature PEM stacks. However, none of these projects focus on the development of test procedures of solid oxide cell/stack systems under dynamic operation conditions or in the electrolysis mode. Moreover established advanced characterization techniques, e.g. the electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) have not yet been integrated in the test protocols of these previous projects.

 The figure on the left shows a solid oxide cell/stack test system which is exposed to test inputs or operational conditions and delivers test outputs or object test results. Due to the complexity of the complete system, it is clear that detailed test schemes, procedures and protocols are essentially necessary for the development of the SOC cell/stack assembly unit. Especially for high temperature solid oxide systems the temperature control subsystem and the gas control subsystems play an important role for the test output results. Moreover, the complexity of the test system is significantly increased when the operation mode is transferred from steady state operation to dynamic operating conditions.

SOCTESQA will therefore concentrate on the development of uniform test procedures for high temperature ceramic solid oxide  cell/stack assembly units both in the fuel cell and in the electrolysis mode. These test procedures usually consist of a combination of different test programs, each of them containing different test modules. 

The test procedures will address three different operation modes, which are solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC), solid oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC) and combined SOFC/SOEC operations. Each of these cases includes both steady state and dynamic operations. This will cover many potential application requirements, e.g. micro-combined heat and power generation (μCHP), auxiliary power unit (APU) or combined SOFC/SOEC energy conversion systems. The test procedures will be developed on stack relevant test specimens, e.g. if possible on short stacks with 3 or 5 cells. The test procedures will include and specify the complete testing system, the different operating modes, the test conditions and the electrochemical characterisation methods, e.g. current-voltage curves and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, with the aim of providing robust and easy-to-use protocols for experimental characterisation of the specified SOC test items and the interpretation of measured data.

These project objectives will be achieved through:

  •  Development of a unified test scheme structure for industry and academia by an associated expertise consortium with demonstrated experience in fuel cell technology transfer to industry. The partners of the project have long-term experience in the development, testing and standardization of solid oxide cells/stacks.
  • Coordinating the collaborative activities of European SOC cell and stack manufacturers and different cell and stack testing research institutes. These industrial SOFC and SOEC stakeholders will be involved in the project by implementation of an industrial advisory board (IAB).
  • Investigation, adaptation and alignment of the available instrumented H2&FC infrastructure, test and calibration facilities and evaluation tools.
  • Identification of the most relevant parameters for the fuel cell and electrolysis operation to be included in the testing procedures and test protocols addressing performance and endurance.
  • Development and consolidation of testing procedures and test protocols commonly agreed upon by all stakeholders.
  • Experimental validation of the developed test procedures by round robin exercise and dissemination of the results.
  • Interaction with standard developing organizations (SDO) with the aim to take up the obtained procedures of this collaborative project into established codes & standards.