Standard Article

History of high temperature fuel cell development

Fundamentals and Survey of Systems

Fuel cell principles, systems and applications

  1. H. Yokokawa,
  2. N. Sakai

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470974001.f104012

Handbook of Fuel Cells

Handbook of Fuel Cells

How to Cite

Yokokawa, H. and Sakai, N. 2010. History of high temperature fuel cell development. Handbook of Fuel Cells. .

Author Information

  1. National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Ibaraki, Japan

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


The historical overview of high temperature fuel cells, namely, the molten carbonate fuel cell (MCFC) and the solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC), is attempted from the viewpoint of materials development and conversion efficiency. The similarity in materials issues between MCFCs and SOFCs is described with emphasis on the importance of stability properties and mass transfer driven from the gradients of thermodynamic quantities, such as oxygen potential, electrical potential and temperature. The development of MCFCs is described to see how the disadvantages of using molten carbonates can be overcome without losing the advantages of using a liquid electrolyte. Corrosion and shorting due to cathode dissolution limit the life and cell performance. To improve these disadvantages, optimization will be required by full understanding of the interactions of materials with molten carbonates. The development of SOFCs is discussed from the viewpoint of overcoming the mechanical weaknesses caused by the volume changes associated with thermal cycles or atmospheric changes. This weak point makes it necessary to develop cell materials, a processing technique and stack design, simultaneously. The sealless tubular stacks and the planar ones with oxide interconnects are examples of success in establishing these technologies. Against the earlier expectation that SOFCs would suffer from poor material selection and lower efficiency, these SOFC systems have demonstrated that excellent long-term stability has been achieved at high conversion efficiency without degradation. The second generation SOFC stacks with metal interconnects exhibit similar features to the MCFC stacks development, although the corrosion rate is less severe.


  • molten carbonate fuel cell;
  • solid oxide fuel cell;
  • material selection;
  • conversion efficiency;
  • degradation;
  • stability