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PhD Thesis M/W: Recycling of Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cells (SOECs)

This offer is available in the following languages:
Français - Anglais

Date Limite Candidature : mercredi 25 mai 2022

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General information

Reference : UMR6502-ANNLEG-003
Workplace : NANTES
Date of publication : Wednesday, May 4, 2022
Scientific Responsible name : Annie LE GAL LA SALLE
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 1 September 2022
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cell (SOEC) technology is a key technology for the ongoing energy transition towards a low carbon future, and is the most viable route for the efficient utilization of renewable electricity to produce green hydrogen and fuels. However, the future potential for mass-scale SOEC production makes the precise choice of oxide materials contained in SOEC stacks of key importance, based on both the materials' cost-effectiveness and other considerations in the technology's life-cycle analysis, and recycling of compounds become necessary.
The different parts of the solid oxide cell contain costly metal and rare-earth elements and which both suffer from degradation issues. In order to overcome these issues, The development of new materials will be supported by modelling, life-cycle analysis, recovery and recyclability options. The electrolyte material contains a large amount of rare-earthelements, either Yttrium, Gadolinium or Cerium. An alternative REE-free electrolyte is very challenging and rarely studied in literature. It is then necessary to focus on the recovery and recyclability of these electrolyte materials.
Crucial properties of the anode or oxygen electrode are the catalytic vs. the oxygen ion oxidation reaction and the high mixed ion-electronic conductivity, but also good thermal and mechanical match with other components. Moreover, it should be thermally and chemically stable at operating and preparation temperatures, as well as ought to be inexpensive, easily fabricated and environmentally friendly. Based on these properties, perovskites and double-perovskite oxides are key players, among which lanthanum strontium manganite (LSM) based materials and La0.6Sr0.4Co0.2Fe0.8O3 (LSCF) are the most commonly investigated anode materials. Doping and structure modification of these materials is a commonly employed strategy to ensure oxygen ion transport and sufficient active sites are available for the electrode reactions.
The aim of the thesis is to evaluate methods of dissolution of waste product and to investigate the techniques to separate and characterize the mixture of recycled products from the solid oxide single cells elaborated in the project. For that, alternative cycles of acid treatments and separation of liquid and solid phases will be applied. In a second step, the re-use of recycled products will be studied.


Besides recyclability, the objective of the project Nouveau in which the thesis is included is to develop intermediate-temperature SOEC systems with increased durability, lower rare-earth elements and metal amount. In this context, collaborations with partner laboratories are planned.

Work Context

Created in 1988 by the world-renowned French chemist Jean Rouxel, the Nantes Institute of Materials has become one of the leading materials research centers in France. Its work contributes to the improvement of many industrial processes in the field of high technology.
The Jean Rouxel Institute of Materials of Nantes currently brings together more than 120 researchers (chemists, physicists, materials engineers from the CNRS and Nantes University), administrative and technical staff, and 80 research contractors.
The project will take place in the Electrochemical Energy Storage and Conversion (ST2E) team. The ST2E team has a long experience in the field of ceramic materials for high temperature solid oxide batteries and electrolyzers (SOFC and SOEC).
The doctoral school is the ED3M, whose themes cover physics and chemistry. More information: https://ed-3m.doctorat-bretagneloire.fr/en/7_presentation

Constraints and risks

Toxic reagents, ionizing radiation (X-rays)

Additional Information

The candidate will have a strong scientific curiosity and the will to develop a strong expertise in the fields of solid state chemistry. With a M2 and/or engineering school degree in materials science, he/she should have a solid and varied background in both synthesis (solid state reactions, soft chemistry), characterization (X-ray diffraction, thermal analysis, spectroscopy and/or microscopy), and electrochemical analysis (electrical conductivity measurements) of materials. He/she will participate in the activities of the Electrochemical Energy Storage and Conversion (ST2E) team and will be required to present his/her work at national or international conferences. A good level of English is required.
The candidate should send a detailed CV, and a letter of motivation.

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