A nickel–copper alloy is prepared by using the oxalate method and subsequent in situ reduction. The bimetallic alloy is mixed with gadolinium-doped ceria (CGO) to obtain a composite material with mixed electronic–ionic conductivity. The catalytic and electrocatalytic properties of the composite material for ethanol conversion are described. Different conditions to simulate bio-ethanol feed operation are selected. Electrochemical tests are performed by utilizing the NiCu/CGO cermet as a barrier layer in a conventional anode-supported solid-oxide fuel cell (AS-SOFC). A comparative study between the modified cell and a conventional AS-SOFC without the protective layer is made. A maximum power density of 277 mW cm−email@example.com V is recorded in the presence of a mixture of ethanol–water for a cell containing the protective anodic layer compared with 231 mW cm−firstname.lastname@example.org V for a bare cell under the same conditions. This corresponds to a 20 % increase in performance.