Hierarchical Structural Changes during Redox Cycling of Fe-Based Lamellar Foams Containing YSZ, CeO2, or ZrO2

Stephen K. Wilke, Robert A. Lundberg, David C. Dunand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Several high-temperature energy conversion and storage technologies rely on redox cycling of Fe-based materials, including storage materials in solid-oxide Fe-air batteries and oxygen carriers in chemical-looping combustion. The materials' macroporosity necessary for gas flow is, however, irreversibly diminished during redox cycling due to (i) large volume changes during the redox transformations, (ii) foam sintering at elevated operating temperature (550-900 °C), and (iii) formation and growth of Kirkendall microporosity. To address these challenges, we use directional freeze-casting to create highly porous, lamellar, Fe-composite foams containing uniformly distributed sintering inhibitor (SI) particles - either Y2O3-stabilized ZrO2 (YSZ), CeO2, or ZrO2 - at 0, 5, 10, or 15% of the solid volume. We characterize these foams before, during, and after redox cycling (Fe/FeO/Fe3O4, via H2O and H2) at 800 °C using operando synchrotron X-ray microtomography, metallography, and scanning electron microscopy. Shrinkage of the foam volume and formation of a gas-blocking shell surrounding the foam are reduced as the SI fraction increases. Volumetric shrinkage after the first five redox cycles is decreased from 66% (for pure-Fe foams) to 45% (for all Fe-composites containing 5 vol % SI). Foams containing 15 vol % YSZ show no volumetric shrinkage after five cycles, although, after 20 cycles, they have shrunk 53%. Post-cycling analysis reveals segregation of the SI particles to the cores of individual lamellae, surrounded by thick layers of sintered Fe on the lamellae surfaces. This segregation occurs due to Fe diffusion through FeO to the lamellae surfaces during oxidation, leaving behind the SI particles, which are then pushed into clusters by FeO/Fe3O4 contraction during reduction. The SI is thus rendered ineffective, which explains why foam densification is delayed (compared with pure-Fe foams), rather than fully prevented, after repeated cycling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27190-27201
Number of pages12
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number24
StatePublished - Jun 17 2020


  • Kirkendall effect
  • metal-ceramic composite foams
  • operando X-ray tomography
  • redox cycling
  • sintering inhibitors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


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