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Neutrons—Fueling better power

February 4, 2019—A University of South Carolina research team is investigating the oxygen reduction performance of energy conversion materials called perovskites by using neutron diffraction at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Spallation Neutron Source. Perovskites are core components of solid oxide fuel cells, which can be utilized for distributed power generation in remote areas or for backup power at data centers. Neutrons’ sensitivity to light elements like oxygen allow them to accurately probe the perovskites’ structures and reveal how they influence the fuel cell’s performance. Using a furnace in the VULCAN beamline, the team mimicked a fuel cell’s typical environmental conditions. “VULCAN’s unique high-temperature capability allowed us to see the perovskites’ structures in their operating conditions,” said USC’s Kevin Huang, the corresponding author. “Better understanding this structure-property relationship could allow us to enable better power generation performance by optimizing materials.” The team’s research was published in Applied Materials & Interfaces. —Josh Witt

 Kevin Huang/University of South Carolina