Published online by Cambridge University Press: 15 June 2012
Ferrites are promising materials for enabling solar-thermochemical cycles. Such cycles utilize solar-thermal energy to reduce the metal oxide, which is then re-oxidized by H2O or CO2, producing H2 or CO, respectively. Mixing ferrites with zirconia or yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) greatly improves their cyclabilities. In order to understand this system, we have studied the behavior of iron oxide/8YSZ (8 mol-% Y2O3 in ZrO2) using in situ X-ray diffraction and thermogravimetric analyses at temperatures up to 1500 °C and under controlled atmosphere. The solubility of iron oxide in 8YSZ measured by XRD at room temperature was 9.4 mol-% Fe. The solubility increased to at least 10.4 mol-% Fe when heated between 800 and 1000 °C under inert atmosphere. Furthermore iron was found to migrate in and out of the 8YSZ phase as the temperature and oxidation state of the iron changed. In samples containing >9.4 mol-% Fe, stepwise heating to 1400 °C under helium caused reduction of Fe2O3 to Fe3O4 to FeO. Exposure of the FeO-containing material to CO2 at 1100 °C re-oxidized FeO to Fe3O4 with evolution of CO. Thermogravimetric analysis during thermochemical cycling of materials with a range of iron contents showed that samples with mostly dissolved iron utilized a greater proportion of the iron atoms present than did samples possessing a greater fraction of un-dissolved iron oxides.