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Research Papers

Optimizing the Anode Structure of a Passive Tubular-Shaped Direct Methanol Fuel Cell to Operate With High Concentration Methanol

[+] Author and Article Information
Jing Huang, Travis Ward

Department of Mechanical Engineering,  University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269

Amir Faghri1

Department of Mechanical Engineering,  University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269faghri@engr.uconn.edu

1

Corresponding author.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 9(5), 051008 (Aug 28, 2012) (6 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4007274 History: Received May 16, 2012; Revised July 24, 2012; Published August 28, 2012; Online August 28, 2012

In order to take full advantage of the high energy density available in methanol fuel, one must use high concentration methanol in direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs). However, this causes severe methanol crossover and leads to low power density and fuel efficiency. In this work, a tubular shape is adopted to generate higher volumetric power density; porous polytetrafluoroethylen (PTFE) membranes at the anode are used to control methanol transport with a high concentration fuel. A novel passive tubular-shaped DMFC is improved to achieve stable operation with methanol concentrations up to 20 M. It is observed that a balance between fuel transport resistance, power density, energy density, and fuel efficiency exists. Increased resistance enhances fuel efficiency, hence, energy density, but limits the fuel supply and causes low power density. With the improved anode structure and higher concentration fuel (1 M to 15 M), the energy output of the tubular DMFC increases 591%, from 0.094 Wh to 0.65 Wh with 2 ml fuel. The power densitymaintains the same level as 16 mW/cm2 . For different fuel concentrations, there exists an optimum structure to generate the highest power density, which is a result of minimizing the methanol crossover while also providing sufficient fuel. The discharge characteristic at constant voltage and its effect on fuel efficiency are also discussed.

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Copyright © 2012 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figures

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Figure 1

Different anode structures tested

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Figure 2

Polarization and power curves for different concentrations of methanol using structure S4: (a) power density, and (b) current density

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Figure 3

Polarization and power curves for different anode side structures with a 15 M methanol solution: (a) power density, and (b) current density

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Figure 4

Peak power density versus methanol solution concentration for different anode structures

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Figure 5

Maximum current density versus methanol solution concentration

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Figure 6

Maximum power density versus anode structure

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Figure 7

Maximum temperature rise with different methanol concentrations and structures

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Figure 8

Fuel efficiency versus methanol solution concentration

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Figure 9

Constant voltage discharge with the same structure under different methanol concentrations

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Figure 10

Fuel efficiency versus anode structure

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Figure 11

Electricity generated by 2 ml methanol solution at 0.35 V

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