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Research Papers

Comparison of Alkaline Direct Ethanol Fuel Cells With and Without Anion Exchange Membrane

[+] Author and Article Information
Jing Huang

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

Amir Faghri

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

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF FUEL CELL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received April 16, 2014; final manuscript received May 27, 2014; published online August 26, 2014. Editor: Nigel M. Sammes.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 11(5), 051007 (Aug 26, 2014) (7 pages) Paper No: FC-14-1048; doi: 10.1115/1.4028156 History: Received April 16, 2014; Revised May 27, 2014

The performance of three alkaline direct ethanol fuel cells (ADEFCs) is investigated. All three use identical anode and cathode electrodes, but one uses an anion exchange membrane (AEM) and the other two use nonpermselective porous separators. Ethanol was chosen as the fuel because of its low toxicity, low carbon footage, and market readiness. A direct comparison between ADEFCs with and without AEM is reported. The performance of each cell is studied under different operation conditions of temperature, reactants flow rate, ethanol and potassium hydroxide (KOH) concentrations. The results show that with low cost porous separator, the ADEFC can reach similar power output as those using expensive AEMs. With 1 M ethanol and 1 M KOH aqueous solution, the maximum power densities of 26.04 mW/cm2 and 24.0 mW/cm2 are achieved for the ADEFC employing AEM and porous separator, respectively. This proves the feasibility of replacing AEM with nonpermselective separators. The results suggest that improving the cathode structure in order to provide a better oxygen supply is the key factor to enhance the performance of an AEM free ADEFC.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Structure of an AEM-free ADEFC

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Fig. 2

ADEFCs that use AEM as electrolyte (left, cell #1) and nonwoven fabric as separator (right, cell #2)

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Fig. 3

Comparison between three fuel cells that using identical anode and cathode electrodes but different separators or AEM

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Fig. 4

iR-corrected anode and cathode potential and overpotential

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Fig. 5

Influence of temperature on the cell performance (cell #2)

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Fig. 6

Influence of cathode flow rate on (a) cell #1, (b) cell #2, and (c) cell #3

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Fig. 7

Influence of anode flow rate on on (a) cell #1, (b) cell #2, and (c) cell #3

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Fig. 8

Influence of the ethanol concentration on (a) cell #1 and (b) cell #2

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Fig. 9

Influence of KOH concentration on (a) cell #1 and (b) cell #2

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Fig. 10

Influence of oxygen humidity (cell #1)

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