Modification of a first-generation solid oxide fuel cell cathode with Co3O4 nanocubes having selectively exposed crystal planes

Xi Xu, Chao Wang, Marco Fronzi, Xuehua Liu, Lei Bi, X. S. Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Co3O4 nanocubes with exposed (001) planes were prepared and employed for use as first-generation Sr-doped LaMnO3 (LSM) cathodes in solid oxide fuel cells to improve the cell performance. Theoretical simulations suggest that the Co3O4 (001) plane has the smallest oxygen adsorption and oxygen dissociation energies compared with other planes, thus favouring cathode reactions in solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs). Experimental studies consistently demonstrate that a cell using an LSM cathode made with Co3O4 nanocubes with selective (001) surfaces exhibits a peak power density of 500 mW cm−2 at 600 °C, while the power output for a cell using unselective (commercial) Co3O4 nanoparticles is only 179 mW cm−2 at the same temperature. The electrochemical study indicates that the use of Co3O4 nanoparticles with exposed (001) surfaces obviously accelerates the cathode reactions and thus decreases the polarisation resistance, which is the key to improving fuel cell performance. This study demonstrates the feasibility of using the crystal planes of metal oxides to improve the fuel cell performance and provides a new way to design SOFC cathodes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15
JournalMaterials for Renewable and Sustainable Energy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Sep 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Cathode
  • CoO
  • Density functional theory
  • Nanocubes
  • Solid oxide fuel cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Materials Chemistry


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