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Research Papers

Study on a Vapor-Feed Air-Breathing Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Assisted by a Catalytic Combustor

[+] Author and Article Information
Wei Yuan

Key Laboratory of Surface Functional
Structure Manufacturing of Guangdong
Higher Education Institutes,
School of Mechanical and
Automotive Engineering,
South China University of Technology,
Building 19, Wushan Road 381,
Guangzhou 510640, China
e-mail: mewyuan@scut.edu.cn

Hong-Rong Xia

Key Laboratory of Surface Functional
Structure Manufacturing of Guangdong
Higher Education Institutes,
School of Mechanical and
Automotive Engineering,
South China University of Technology,
Building 19, Wushan Road 381,
Guangzhou 510640, China
e-mail: 1066953488@qq.com

Jin-Yi Hu

Key Laboratory of Surface Functional
Structure Manufacturing of Guangdong
Higher Education Institutes,
School of Mechanical and
Automotive Engineering,
South China University of Technology,
Building 19, Wushan Road 381,
Guangzhou 510640, China
e-mail: 1058551620@qq.com

Zhao-Chun Zhang

Key Laboratory of Surface Functional
Structure Manufacturing of Guangdong
Higher Education Institutes,
School of Mechanical and
Automotive Engineering,
South China University of Technology,
Building 19, Wushan Road 381,
Guangzhou 510640, China
e-mail: 985467137@qq.com

Yong Tang

Key Laboratory of Surface Functional
Structure Manufacturing of Guangdong
Higher Education Institutes,
School of Mechanical and
Automotive Engineering,
South China University of Technology,
Building 19, Wushan Road 381,
Guangzhou 510640, China
e-mail: ytang@scut.edu.cn

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF FUEL CELL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received March 23, 2014; final manuscript received October 27, 2014; published online November 25, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Jacob Brouwer.

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 12(1), 011002 (Feb 01, 2015) (7 pages) Paper No: FC-14-1032; doi: 10.1115/1.4029071 History: Received March 23, 2014; Revised October 27, 2014; Online November 25, 2014

Feeding vaporized methanol to the direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) helps reduce the effects of methanol crossover (MCO) and facilitates the use of high-concentration or neat methanol so as to enhance the energy density of the fuel cell system. This paper reports a novel system design coupling a catalytic combustor with a vapor-feed air-breathing DMFC. The combustor functions as an assistant heat provider to help transform the liquid methanol into vapor phase. The feasibility of this method is experimentally validated. Compared with the traditional electric heating mode, the operation based on this catalytic combustor results in a higher cell performance. Results indicate that the values of methanol concentration and methanol vapor chamber (MVC) temperature both have direct effects on the cell performance, which should be well optimized. As for the operation of the catalytic combustor, it is necessary to optimize the number of capillary wicks and also catalyst loading. In order to fast trigger the combustion reaction, an optimal oxygen feed rate (OFR) must be used. The required amount of oxygen to sustain the reaction can be far lower than that for methanol ignition in the starting stage.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Structural schematic of the VF-DMFC assisted by a catalytic combustor

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Fig. 2

A photo of the VF-DMFC system

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Fig. 3

SEM images of the cathode BL and MPL

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Fig. 6

Fuel cell performances at different temperatures of the MVC: (a) OCV curves and (b) polarization curves (8 M, Pt 1.25)

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Fig. 5

Fuel cell performances at different methanol concentrations: (a) OCV curves and (b) polarization curves (45 °C, Pt 1.25)

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Fig. 4

Performance comparison between the fuel cells based on catalytic combustion and electric heating (45 °C, Pt 1.25)

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Fig. 7

Relation graph of the operational factors of the combustor and DMFC

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Fig. 9

Time-dependent curves of the focused temperatures and OFR

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Fig. 8

Time-dependent curves of the combustor outwall temperature during the starting stage: (a) 4 wicks versus 3 wicks (Pt 1.5); (b) 7 wicks versus 3 wicks (Pt 1.5); and (c) Pt 1.25 versus Pt 1.5 (7 wicks)

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