High fuel utilization (Uf) conditions in a small-scale electrolyte-supported solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) with an Ni-ScSZ anode were approximated by adjusting the gas composition to correspond to that in the downstream region of an SOFC stack. At Uf = 80%, and with a cell voltage of 0.5 V, the ohmic resistance fluctuated slightly from the early stages of operation, and became much more significant after 80 h. High current density and large polarization were found to promote Ni agglomeration, leading to insufficient connectivity of the Ni nanoparticles. At Uf = 95%, and with a cell voltage of 0.6 V, fluctuations in the polarization were observed at a much earlier stage, which are attributed to the highly humidified fuel. In particular, significant degradation was observed when the compensated anode potential (which incorporates the anode ohmic losses) approached the Ni oxidation potential. Ohmic losses in the anode are considered to influence Ni oxidation by exposing Ni near the electrolyte to a more oxidizing atmosphere with the increase in oxygen ion transport. Stable operation is therefore possible under conditions in which the compensated anode potential does not approach the Ni oxidation potential, assuming a stable interconnected Ni network.
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