SOFC fuel cells

Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

A fuel cell converts the chemically bound energy of a fuel directly into electricity. This allows fuel cells to have a higher efficiency than traditional generators and power plants. The Department of Energy Conversion and Storage develops high-performance solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) consisting of thin layers of advanced ceramics (and for certain types also metals). A number of key advantages make SOFC technology very promising:

  • High electrical efficiency
  • Fuel flexibility (natural gas, hydrogen, ethanol, bio fuels, diesel,...)
  • Low emissions (NOX, CO2)
  • Low noise
  • Modular concept (from kilowatts to megawatts)
  • Well suited for combined heat and power (CHP) due to a relatively high operation temperature (550-1000 °C).  

Small units of 1-5 kilowatts could, for example, be used as auxiliary power units for trucks, which today use inefficient and polluting diesel generators. Units of a similar size could also be used for combined heat and power for individual households (micro-CHP ). Larger units will be attractive for distributed generation, e.g. for hotels, supermarkets and hospitals.

We have been doing SOFC research since the late 1980s. Today, we are among the world leaders in this field. Our research ranges from fundamental investigations of materials and their structural and electrochemical properties to the manufacture of complete cells with industrially relevant processes. Thus, our process lab facility has the capacity to produce thousands of cells. Moreover, we have extensive knowledge about advanced characterization and testing of fuel cells which makes it possible to investigate their electrochemical performance in great detail. Sophisticated equipment allows us to measure the mechanical and microstructural properties that are very important for cell lifetime.

Our research activities include the following areas:

  • Development of improved electrodes using, e.g., nanostructuring, functionalization and surface design
  • Inkjet printing and thin film technology as new processing routes for high performance cells
  • Detailed electrochemical characterization and in situ diagnostics at cell and stack level to study degradation mechanisms
  • New concepts for degradation analysis and lifetime prediction such as accelerated testing
  • Reversible solid oxide fuel cells/electrolysis cells
  • Novel stack and module concepts for increased power density.

The Department for Energy Conversion and Storage has a long tradition for close collaboration with industry partners and research institutions all over the world, and we participate in several Danish and European projects on the development of SOFC technology.


Anke Hagen
DTU Energy
+45 46 77 58 84