New 3D printing “Ink” Could Further Innovation in Ceramic Fuel Cells

Since 2013, Dr. Tomas Diaz de la Rubia has been a director with Deloitte Consulting’s Energy and Resources practice. Prior to joining Deloitte, Dr. Tomas Diaz de la Rubia served a three-year term as an elected board member with the Materials Research Society.

Inexpensive materials and hardware have made 3D printing technology more accessible than ever, although consumer-level 3D printers have traditionally been largely limited to plastic compounds. However, a recent presentation at the Materials Research Society’s fall meeting last year suggested an innovative method of printing the components of ceramic fuel cell batteries.

Dr. Ramil Shah and her TEAM (Tissue Engineering and Additive Manufacturing) lab at Northwestern University debuted new “inks” to print the cathode, anode, electrolyte, and interconnects within the battery. Although fuel cells have been in use in various forms for decades, ceramic fuel cells are among the most efficient means of converting chemical energy to electrical energy. The ability to quickly and autonomously 3D-print ceramic materials in complex shapes enables designers to maximize the surface area of fuel cell components, potentially improving their efficiency while drastically reducing production costs.

The Materials Research Society is a consortium of more than 16,000 researchers from multiple disciplines. Since its inception in 1973, the organization has worked to build a global network to exchange information and technical expertise.

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