Practicality of the Convolutional Solution Method of the Polarization Estimation Inverse Problem for Solid Oxide Fuel Cells
A specific species of the genus Geobacter exhibits useful electrical properties when processing a molecule often found in waste water. A team at ASU including Dr Cèsar Torres and Dr Sudeep Popat used that species to create a special type of solid oxide fuel cell we refer to as a microbial fuel cell. Identification of possible chemical processes and properties of the reactions used by the Geobacter are investigated indirectly by taking measurements using Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy of the electrode-electrolyte interface of the microbial fuel cell to obtain the value of the fuel cell's complex impedance at specific frequencies. Investigation of the multiple polarization processes which give rise to measured impedance values is difficult to do directly and so examination of the distribution function of relaxation times (DRT) is considered instead. The DRT is related to the measured complex impedance values using a general, non-physical equivalent circuit model. That model is originally given in terms of a Fredholm integral equation with a non-square integrable kernel which makes the inverse problem of determining the DRT given the impedance measurements an ill-posed problem. The original integral equation is rewritten in terms of new variables into an equation relating the complex impedance to the convolution of a function based upon the original integral kernel and a related but separate distribution function which we call the convolutional distribution function. This new convolutional equation is solved by reducing the convolution to a pointwise product using the Fourier transform and then solving the inverse problem by pointwise division and application of a filter function (equivalent to regularization). The inverse Fourier transform is then taken to get the convolutional distribution function. In the literature the convolutional distribution function is then examined and certain values of a specific, less general equivalent circuit model are calculated from which aspects of the original chemical processes are derived. We attempted to instead directly determine the original DRT from the calculated convolutional distribution function. This method proved to be practically less useful due to certain values determined at the time of experiment which meant the original DRT could only be recovered in a window which would not normally contain the desired information for the original DRT. This limits any attempt to extend the solution for the convolutional distribution function to the original DRT. Further research may determine a method for interpreting the convolutional distribution function without an equivalent circuit model as is done with the regularization method used to solve directly for the original DRT.