Ni sintering in the Ni/YSZ porous anode of a solid oxide fuel cell changes the porous structure, leading to degradation. Preventing sintering and degradation during operation is a great challenge. Usually, a sintering molecular dynamics (MD) simulation model consisting of two particles on a substrate is used; however, the model cannot reflect the porous structure effect on sintering. In our previous study, a multi-nanoparticle sintering modeling method with tens of thousands of atoms revealed the effect of the particle framework and porosity on sintering. However, the method cannot reveal the effect of the particle size on sintering and the effect of sintering on the change in the porous structure. In the present study, we report a strategy to reveal them in the porous structure by using our multi-nanoparticle modeling method and a parallel large-scale multimillion-atom MD simulator. We used this method to investigate the effect of YSZ particle size and tortuosity on sintering and degradation in the Ni/YSZ anodes. Our parallel large-scale MD simulation showed that the sintering degree decreased as the YSZ particle size decreased. The gas fuel diffusion path, which reflects the overpotential, was blocked by pore coalescence during sintering. The degradation of gas diffusion performance increased as the YSZ particle size increased. Furthermore, the gas diffusion performance was quantified by a tortuosity parameter and an optimal YSZ particle size, which is equal to that of Ni, was found for good diffusion after sintering. These findings cannot be obtained by previous MD sintering studies with tens of thousands of atoms. The present parallel large-scale multimillion-atom MD simulation makes it possible to clarify the effects of the particle size and tortuosity on sintering and degradation.
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