Baur and Ehrenberg

Baur and Ehrenberg (1912) followed the work of Taitelbaum (1910, in Baur and Ehrenberg, 1912), selecting molten silver as the cathode for a coal cell because of its good oxygen-dissolving properties. With one electrode having been selected, they investigated different electrolytes, which they identified as having to be melts in order to maintain the temperature. The anode material could be either the carbon itself or, for gaseous fuels such as hydrogen and carbon monoxide, a metal but, specifically, one that was less expensive than platinum, such as iron or copper.

The electrolytes that were tested were soda (sodium hydroxide) and potash (potassium hydroxide) or a mixture of the two; potassium sodium carbonate (KNaCO3); potassium silicate (K2SiO3) with added potassium fluoride; cryolite (Na3AlF6) with alumina (Al2O3); and borax (sodium borate, NaB4O7). The temperature was 1000°C, and the researchers reported obtaining a performance of 100 A/m2 at 1 V.

Iron, nickel, and copper were used as the anode electrode for testing with hydrogen and carbon monoxide, and molten silver was the oxygen electrode exposed to the air. Sodium borate was the electrolyte. With hydrogen as fuel, the iron and nickel proved to be better suited for the reaction than copper, which could not dissolve as much hydrogen and which also formed an oxide layer that would dissolve in the borate. With carbon monoxide, the highest performance of 0.80 V was achieved by the nickel, but Baur and Ehrenberg considered that value unsatisfactory.

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