A ceramic-ceramic nanocomposite solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) electrolyte with enhanced conductivity was created by Dayton University scientists. Binod Kumar and Christina H. Chen formed the nancomposite electrolyte from chemically stabilized zirconia such as yttria stabilized zirconia or scandia stabilized zirconia and a heterogeneous ceramic dopant material such as Al2O3, TiO2, MgO, BN, or Si3N4. The nanocomposite electrolyte is formed by doping the chemically stabilized zirconia with the ceramic dopant material and pressing and sintering the composite. The resulting electrolyte has a bulk conductivity of from about 0.10 to about 0.50 S/cm at about 600 degree C to about 900 degree C and may be incorporated into a solid oxide fuel cell.
The nanocomposite electrolyte is formed by heterogeneously doping chemically stabilized zirconia with a ceramic dopant material which remains physically distinct from the bulk structure and imparts an increase in ionic conductivity. The ceramic-ceramic nanocomposite electrolyte, when incorporated into a solid oxide fuel cell, allows operation of the fuel cell at lower temperatures and provides improved power density, enhanced mechanical integrity, and reduced cost of power generation, according to U.S. Patent 7,618,731